Measurement of Learning Disabilities and Intellectual Disabilities: Racial Patterns and Labor Market Biases in RSA-911 Data

33 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2023

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: June 1, 2023

Abstract

This paper provides novel evidence on how racial differences in the classification of learning and intellectual disabilities bias inferences on labor market outcomes of vocational rehabilitation program clients. Estimates using Rehabilitation Services Administration data from Virginia imply that whites with learning disabilities have worse labor market outcomes than non-whites. We argue this unusual finding reflects racial differences in how disabilities are classified. In particular, the thresholds used to classify intellectual disabilities are more stringent for white than black students. We are the first to model and estimate the disability classification process to understand racial gaps in labor market outcomes of the disabled. Using an endogenous disability classification model, we find substantial biases in the estimated labor market coefficients. At minimum, the estimated white-black employment gap is biased down by 3.2% and the earnings gap by 10%.

Keywords: disability classification, systematic racial differences, white-black gap, vocational rehabilitation

JEL Classification: I120, J140, J150, J240, J310, J710

Suggested Citation

Clapp, Christopher and Pepper, John V. and Schmidt, Robert M. and Stern, Steven N., Measurement of Learning Disabilities and Intellectual Disabilities: Racial Patterns and Labor Market Biases in RSA-911 Data (June 1, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4514620 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4514620

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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