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Assessing Post‐ADA Employment: Some Econometric Evidence and Policy Considerations

27 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2011  

John J. Donohue III

Stanford Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Michael Ashley Stein

William & Mary Law School

Christopher L. Griffin, Jr.

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Sascha Becker

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: September 2011

Abstract

This article explores the relationship between the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the relative labor market outcomes for people with disabilities. Using individual‐level longitudinal data from 1981 to 1996 derived from the previously unexploited Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), we examine the possible effect of the ADA on (1) annual weeks worked; (2) annual earnings; and (3) hourly wages for a sample of 7,120 unique male household heads between the ages of 21 and 65, as well as for a subset of 1,437 individuals appearing every year from 1981 to 1996. Our analysis of the larger sample suggests the ADA had a negative impact on the employment levels of disabled persons relative to nondisabled persons but no impact on relative earnings. However, our evaluation of the restricted sample raises questions about these findings. Using these data, we find little evidence of adverse effects on weeks worked but strong evidence of wage declines for the disabled, albeit declines beginning in 1986, well before the ADA's passage. These results therefore cast doubt on the adverse ADA‐related impacts found in previous studies, particularly Acemoglu and Angrist (2001). The conflicting narratives that emerge from our analysis shed new light on, but also counsel caution in reaching final conclusions about, the impact of the ADA on employment outcomes for people with disabilities.

Suggested Citation

Donohue, John J. and Stein, Michael Ashley and Griffin, Jr., Christopher L. and Becker, Sascha, Assessing Post‐ADA Employment: Some Econometric Evidence and Policy Considerations (September 2011). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 8, Issue 3, pp. 477-503, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1904790 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1740-1461.2011.01217.x

John J. Donohue III (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States
650-575-7166 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Michael Ashley Stein

William & Mary Law School

South Henry Street
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States

Christopher L. Griffin, Jr.

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Sascha Becker

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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