The Effects of Disability on Labour Force Status in Australia

24 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2004  

Roger Wilkins

University of Melbourne; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)


Using the Australian Bureau of Statistics 1998 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, this study examines the effects of disability on four labour market outcomes: not in the labour force, unemployed, part-time employed and full-time employed. The detailed information on health available in the dataset also facilitates investigation of the dependence of effects on the characteristics of the disability, including severity, impairment type and age of onset. Disability is found to have substantial effects on labour force status, on average acting to decrease the probability of labour force participation by one-quarter for males and one-fifth for females. For males, the decrease in fulltime employment accounts for almost all of the decrease in labour force participation associated with disability; for females, disability has negative effects on both full-time and part-time employment. Analysis of disability characteristics shows that adverse effects on labour force status are increasing in the severity of the disability and are also worse for those with more than one type of impairment and for those who experience disability onset at older ages. There is evidence that the adverse effects of disability are lower for males who completed their education after the onset of the disability.

Suggested Citation

Wilkins, Roger, The Effects of Disability on Labour Force Status in Australia. Australian Economic Review, Vol. 37, No. 4, pp. 359-382, December 2004. Available at SSRN:

Roger Kingsley Wilkins (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne ( email )

Level 5, 111 Barry Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053
+613 8344 2092 (Phone)
+613 8344 2111 (Fax)


Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072


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