Overview of Vocational Rehabilitation Data about People with Visual Impairments: Demographics, Services and Long-Run Labor Market Trends

Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB), 2019

29 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2020

See all articles by Christopher M. Clapp

Christopher M. Clapp

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy

John V. Pepper

University of Virginia - Department of Economics

Robert M. Schmidt

University of Richmond

Steven N. Stern

Stony Brooke University

Date Written: December 1, 2019

Abstract

Introduction: This study describes the characteristics of, services received by, and labor market outcomes of applicants with visual impairments to three state vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs. Our objective is to both document cross-state variation in VR clientele and services as well as provide new insights on the longitudinal labor market outcomes of VR clients with visual impairments. This is a first step in assessing the returns to VR services for this population.

Methods: We first created a unique longitudinal dataset by matching administrative records on visually impaired applicants in state fiscal year (SFY) 2007 from three VR agencies to eight years of employment data from state Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs. Using these data, we examined cross-state variation in the descriptive statistics for important client explanatory variables and VR service categories. We then compared the long-term labor market outcomes of clients receiving services (treated) to untreated individuals.

Results: We documented two important findings. First, there were substantial differences in client characteristics, services provided, and costs across the three states. Second, the long run labor market analysis were consistent with VR services having no employment effect but a positive earnings effect.

Discussion: Labor market results indicate VR services provided persistent earnings benefits. Yet, the substantial cross-state heterogeneity suggest these labor market results might not be generalizable and should be interpreted with caution. We explain what was missing from this analysis and why the results should not be thought of as causal.

Implications for Practitioners: This paper gives practitioners a sense of a unique new dataset on VR and labor market variables for applicants with visual impairments. We highlight the importance of cross-state variation and linking VR data to long-term employment measures. The question of how best to inform the efficacy of different VR strategies for clients with visual impairments is left for future researchers to consider.

Keywords: Vocational rehabilitation (VR), blind, vision impairment

JEL Classification: H51, J24

Suggested Citation

Clapp, Christopher and Pepper, John V. and Schmidt, Robert M. and Stern, Steven N., Overview of Vocational Rehabilitation Data about People with Visual Impairments: Demographics, Services and Long-Run Labor Market Trends (December 1, 2019). Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB), 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3532021

Christopher Clapp (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://chrisclapp.org/

John V. Pepper

University of Virginia - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 400182
114 Rouss Hall
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4182
United States
804-924-3402 (Phone)
804-982-2904 (Fax)

Robert M. Schmidt

University of Richmond ( email )

Richmond, VA 23173
United States

Steven N. Stern

Stony Brooke University ( email )

Melville Library N4004
Stony Brook, NY 11794-3384
United States

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