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The impact of gender and disability on the economic well‐being of disabled women in the United Kingdom: A longitudinal study between 2009 and 2014

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The present study examined the economic well‐being of disabled and nondisabled men and women in the United Kingdom. Using the 2009–2014 Life Opportunities Survey (N = 6,159 adults), the study is the first longitudinal study to empirically compare the economic well‐being of disabled women in contrast to disabled men and nondisabled men and women. Hierarchical linear modelling and hierarchical linear logistic modelling were used to estimate the longitudinal changes. Findings indicate that, overall, disabled women's economic well‐being improved significantly between 2009 and 2014 even after controlling for other demographic characteristics. However, the improvements were not substantial enough to significantly narrow the economic disparities between disabled women and disabled men and nondisabled men and women. Disabled women remained worse off than disabled men and nondisabled men and women in 2014 as they did in 2009. The findings indicate that intersectional discrimination against disabled women exist in the United Kingdom. Findings from this study provide empirical evidence to support policies that enhance the economic security of disabled women.
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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
The impact of gender and disability on the
economic wellbeing of disabled women in the
United Kingdom: A longitudinal study between
2009 and 2014
Eun Jung Kim
1
|Susan L. Parish
2
|Tina Skinner
3
1
Asian Demographic Research Institute,
Shanghai University, Shanghai, China
2
Bouvé College of Health Sciences,
Northeastern University, Boston,
Massachusetts, USA
3
Department of Social and Policy Studies,
University of Bath, Bath, UK
Correspondence
Eun Jung Kim, Asian Demographic Research
Institute, Shanghai University, 99 Shangda
Road, Shanghai 200444, China.
Email: uwcsea0620@hotmail.com
Abstract
The present study examined the economic wellbeing of
disabled and nondisabled men and women in the United
Kingdom. Using the 20092014 Life Opportunities Survey
(N= 6,159 adults), the study is the first longitudinal study
to empirically compare the economic wellbeing of disabled
women in contrast to disabled men and nondisabled men
and women. Hierarchical linear modelling and hierarchical
linear logistic modelling were used to estimate the longitu-
dinal changes. Findings indicate that, overall, disabled
women's economic wellbeing improved significantly
between 2009 and 2014 even after controlling for other
demographic characteristics. However, the improvements
were not substantial enough to significantly narrow the
economic disparities between disabled women and disabled
men and nondisabled men and women. Disabled women
remained worse off than disabled men and nondisabled
men and women in 2014 as they did in 2009. The findings
indicate that intersectional discrimination against disabled
women exist in the United Kingdom. Findings from this
study provide empirical evidence to support policies that
enhance the economic security of disabled women.
KEYWORDS
disabled women, economic wellbeing, intersectional discrimination,
United Kingdom
Received: 2 July 2017 Revised: 31 October 2018 Accepted: 7 January 2019
DOI: 10.1111/spol.12486
Soc Policy Admin. 2019;117. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltdwileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/spol 1
1|INTRODUCTION
In 2016, approximately 13.3 million individuals, or one in five, had a disability in the United Kingdom
(Department for Work and Pensions [DWP], 2017). Poverty among disabled people is high in the United
Kingdom. In 2016, 30% of households that include a disabled person lived in poverty, compared with 19% of
households without a disabled person (Disability Right, 2016). As in other developed countries, social and
institutional barriers deprive disabled people in the United Kingdom from accessing essential economic resources
and opportunities.
In the United Kingdom, there are more disabled women than men (DWP, 2017). In 2016, there were 7.4 million
disabled women (23% of the general population) and 6.0 million disabled men (19%), which has remained broadly sta-
ble over time (DWP, 2017). Disabled women are more vulnerable to economic marginalization than disabled men
(Barnes & Mercer, 2003). Although economic hardship affects women disproportionately as it is, disabled women
may face further economic marginalization based on both their gender and their disability identity in contrast to both
disabled men and nondisabled women. Hereinafter, we refer to this as intersectional discrimination”—used in this
study to specifically explain the interacting effect of disability and gender on disabled women's economic wellbeing.
The study acknowledges that intersectional discrimination against disabled women in other areas such as education,
employment, and politics may also exist.
A number of studies indicate that disabled women are less likely to work in paid employment and earn less from
paid work compared with disabled men and nondisabled women (Leonard Cheshire Disability, 2014). Despite the
large number of disabled women and their likelihood of living in poverty, there is a paucity of research on the eco-
nomic wellbeing of disabled women in the United Kingdom. To our knowledge, there has not been any research that
has empirically examined the significance and magnitude of intersectional discrimination experienced by disabled
women in comparison with disabled men and nondisabled women on a national scale.
The purpose of this study is to address this research gap and examine how the intersection of disability and gen-
der affect the financial and material wellbeing of disabled women in the United Kingdom. Using the 20092014 Life
Opportunities Survey (LOS), the study compared the economic wellbeing of disabled and nondisabled men and
women longitudinally. The study examined the economic wellbeing of disabled women between 2009 and 2014
and how they fared compared with disabled men and nondisabled men and women. Findings from this study can
inform policymakers interested in ensuring the wellbeing of disabled women and provide empirical evidence to sup-
port policies that enhance the economic security of disabled women.
2|BACKGROUND
2.1 |Defining disability
Defining disability is complex. The traditional medical model viewed disability as a deficit that required a cure or med-
ical intervention (Oliver, 2013). In this view, disability was a characteristic of an individual. The medical model focused
on the individual's limitations and ways to reduce those impairments by biomedical assistance and intervention
(Donoghue, 2003). Hence, according to the medical model, disability is seen as an undesirable trait, and people with
disabilities are often pitied. On the other hand, the social model viewed disability from a minority identity context.
This view contended that disability was a social outcome characterized by discrimination and oppression rather than
an inherent inferiority or the possession of an undesirable trait (Thomas, 2006). Disability in the social model was a
consequence of historical, material, and social conditions, rather than individual problems or medical conditions (Oli-
ver, 2013). In the social model, people with impairments were disabledby society that excluded them from the
mainstream (Oliver, 2013). Hence, proponents of the social model stressed the importance of removing barriers that
restricted people living with impairments from integrating into mainstream society. Over the past years, the
2KIM ET AL.
contemporary disability discourse in the United Kingdom has shifted towards the social model of disability (Thomas,
2006). In this study, based on the social model, we employed the language disabled peopleinstead of people with
disabilitiesto reflect this social model approach.
2.2 |U.K. disability benefits and policy trends
There is a range of financial support for disabled adults in the United Kingdom. The Personal Independence
Payment (PIP), introduced by the 2012 Welfare Reform Act, is over time replacing the Disability Living Allowance,
which was previously the primary disability costsrelated benefit for disabled adults below pension age. The PIP is
a financial assistance of £22~£145 per week provided to those between the ages of 16 and 64 years and who
have longterm illnesses or disabilities and need help with activities of daily living (DWP, 2018a). Claimants are
required to periodically take an assessment to determine their condition and benefit rates. Unlike the
Supplemental Security Income programme in the United States, the PIP in the United Kingdom is neither income
nor asset tested (DWP, 2018a). In addition, disabled people 65 years of age or older in the United Kingdom can
receive an Attendance Allowance, which supports personal care or assistance (DWP, 2018b). To be eligible, a
recipient's condition must be severe enough to require assistance or supervision for safety. This programme
provides direct financial assistance of approximately £57~£85 per week. Also, the Carer's Allowance (£64 per
week) is available to those who provide care for more than 35 hr a week (DWP, 2018b). Disabled adults not in
work may apply for the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). As of 2018, the ESA provides direct financial
assistance of either £73 (workrelated group) or £111 (support group) per week based on the Work Capability
Assessment (DWP, 2018c). ESA claimants are placed either in the workrelated activity group or support group
depending on the severity of their impairment and expectation to work in the future. Workrelated activity groups
must go to regular interviews with an adviser who can help with improving their job skills and goals. In contrast,
support group claimants do not have to go to interviews but will be asked to talk to a personal adviser. To
become a support group member, the claimant must have an illness or disability that severely limits his or
her activity.
In 2014, the U.K. government spent approximately £13.5 billion (i.e., 0.8% of national income) on disability
benefits (Banks, Blundell, & Emmerson, 2015), and 2.3 million people received at least one disability benefit in
the United Kingdom (Llody & Ross, 2014). Notably, this number represents fewer than onefifth of the 12 million
disabled people living in the United Kingdom (DWP, 2017). Since the late 1990s, there has been ongoing policy
rhetoric in the United Kingdom against fraudulent disability claimants, which intensified under the
Conservative/Liberal Coalition Government that came into power in 2010 and the Conservative Government that
followed in 2015 (Roulstone, 2015). There have been growing public and political sentiments that generous gov-
ernment benefits and open eligibility fostered welfare dependence (Roulstone, 2015). Over the last few years, the
U.K. government has proposed a series of cuts to its disability benefits. The 2012 Welfare Reform Act led to sig-
nificant disability benefit changes. The PIP was introduced under this Act, replacing the Disability Living Allowance
and implementing more stringent eligibility criteria (Russell, 2013). Gulliford (2013) estimated that 600,000 fewer
people will be eligible under the PIP by 2018 than those receiving Disability Living Allowance benefits. In October
2015, cuts were also made in the Access to Work schemes, which provide advice and practical support for work
related obstacles for the disabled population (i.e., alteration to premises or working environments). Under the cuts,
a cap of £40,800 was introduced for all new claimants; existing claimants were capped beginning in April 2018
(DWP, 2018d).
Such changes are expected to hit disabled women harder than disabled men (Engender, 2012; Women's Budget
Group, 2013). Disabled women constitute a slight majority of Disability Living Allowance claimants, and thus the risk
of change is likely to impact women claimants more than their male counterparts (Women's Equality Network Wales,
2013). Also, disabled women are more likely to face discrimination and barriers at work than disabled men (World
KIM ET AL.3
Health Organization, 2011), and thus, the measures to limit spending on the Access to Work scheme is expected to
impact disabled women more than disabled men.
2.3 |Disability and economic hardship
Numerous studies indicate that disabled people are economically disadvantaged because of institutional, environ-
mental, and/or attitudinal discrimination they face (Yeo & Moore, 2003). According to Palmer (2011), disabled people
have a higher likelihood of experiencing poverty than nondisabled people because (a) disabled people have lowered
earning capacity (i.e., less job opportunities and lower education); (b) disability expenses create a drain on resources
(i.e., extra costs for necessary services such as therapies, transportation, and care); and (c) the demands associated
with caregiving detract from the labour capabilities of other household members.
According to a U.K. study, having a disabled person in the household increased the risk of household poverty
from 17% to 31% (McKay & Atkinson, 2007). Also, disabled people living in the United Kingdom paid an average
of £550 per month for disabilityrelated expenses and, as a result, were twice as likely to have unsecured debt
totaling more than half of their household income compared with nondisabled people (Papworth Trust, 2018). Studies
also indicate that disabled people are often underemployed and paid less than nondisabled people, which hinders
their economic independence and stability (Papworth Trust, 2018). In 2017, the employment rate among the U.K.'s
workingage disabled people was half that of nondisabled people (Papworth Trust, 2018), and the proportion of
disabled employees in low paying jobs (i.e., earning less than £7 per hour) was 10% higher than nondisabled
employees (Palmer, 2006).
2.4 |Disabled women and intersectional discrimination
Although both disabled men and women are subject to discrimination based on their disability, the relationship
between economic marginalization and disability is likely intensified for women (Barile, 2001; Haveman, Holden,
Wolfe, Smith, & Wilson, 2000), although recent empirical research on this issue is scant. Disabled women are
less likely to receive the health and rehabilitative care they need to remain economically or socially independent,
and they face reduced access to education, employment, and social inclusion compared with disabled men
(Leonard Cheshire Disability, 2014). They are also less likely to marry, which in turn gives them less access to
the resources of a spouse (Clarke & McKay, 2014). In the United Kingdom, disabled men experienced a pay
gap of 11% compared with nondisabled men. The pay gap for disabled women, however, was 22% (Longhi &
Platt, 2008).
The stereotypes that accompany both disability and gender frequently result in disabled women being seen as
particularly dependent and amplify the misconception of this population as inferior (Coleridge, 1993). Feminist
disability scholars contend that disabled women and disabled men have different life experiences due to
biological, psychological, economic, social, political, and cultural attributes associated with being female and male
(GarlandThomson, 2001, 2002). Traditional disability theories have neglected to explain the gendered nature of
discrimination against disabled women and overlooked the combined effects of gender and disability discrimination
experienced by disabled women (Mays, 2006). Feminist disability studies brought these issues together in analyses
demonstrating how gender and disability interact on multiple levels and contribute to systematic patterns of discrim-
ination against disabled women (GarlandThomson, 2001; Morris, 1991; Sheldon, 2004). In her book, Pride against
Prejudice, Morris (1991) argued that issues relevant to disabled women have been excluded from both disability
and feminist movements, and if any attention was paid, disabled women were only tagged as a special interest or
an optional extra. Morris (1991) argued that like women, disabled people's politicization has its roots in the assertion
that the personal is political,and personal experiences of being denied opportunities should be explained in relation
to social, environmental, and attitudinal barriers, and not by bodily limitations (i.e., impairments and sex). Thomas
4KIM ET AL.
(1999) argued that Human bodies possess a materiality which exists in a relationship of dynamic interaction with its
social and physical environment(p. 9), and that disablism (i.e., a form of social oppression involving the social impo-
sition of restrictions of activity on people with impairments and the socially engendered undermining of their psycho
emotional wellbeing[Thomas, 2007; p.73]) intersects with sexism to generate intricate webs of disadvantage and
exclusion. She also warned against bracketing disabled women or men into undifferentiated or fixed social groupings
(Thomas, 2007).
The interaction of gender and disability may sometimes intensify or amplify the impacts of disability and/or in
some way change the impacts (Dutta, 2015; Skinner & MacGill, 2015). Feminist disability scholars argue that social
forces and contexts that give shape to gender and disability are closely intertwined, and the impact of
disability is inextricably refracted in some way through sexism. Intersectionality holds that different forms of
oppression (i.e., racism, sexism, and disability) overlap, intertwine, and are dependent from one another. As a result,
the consequences of disability and gender should not be studied separately but must be examined by looking at how
disability and gender interrelate and affect disabled women (Dutta, 2015).
Feminist disability writers such as Meekosha (1990), Neath (1997), and Howe (2000) pointed out that disabled
women are at an even greater risk of economic hardship compared with disabled men and nondisabled people, given
the social, historical, and economicbased marginalization and oppression towards disabled women.
However, the existing research suggesting economically poor outcomes for disabled women lacks a robust
empirical base in the United Kingdom. Exploring whether there is an empirical basis for assertions that disability
and gender interact in the lives of disabled women, and indeed lead to further discrimination, will also aid our under-
standing of what happens when identities intersect. As such, the proposed study was conducted to determine how
disabled women in the United Kingdom experience intersectional discrimination compared with disabled men and
nondisabled men and women.
3|METHOD
3.1 |Data
Data for this study were drawn from the LOS. The LOS is the first largescale longitudinal panel survey of
disability in the United Kingdom to compare the experiences of disabled and nondisabled people across a range
of topics (Cuddeford, Glen, & Bulman, 2010). Because a key purpose of the LOS was to compare how disabled
and nondisabled people participate in society, it was designed to include people with a range of impairments.
British Sign Language interpreters and Braille cards were available for respondents with hearing and vision
disabilities, respectively. Furthermore, indepth interviews and ethnography were used to ensure individuals with
severe learning, memory, and neurodiversity impairments were included in the survey (Office for National
Statistics, 2010).
Using multistage randomstratified clustered design, the LOS was designed to represent the national popula-
tion. The LOS is a longitudinal panel survey, and respondents were interviewed three times between June 2009
and September 2014. The LOS interviewed a total of 31,161 adults aged 16 and older who lived in 37,500 house-
holds from June 2009 to March 2011 (Wave 1). Respondents were subsequently followed up approximately 1 year
after their initial interviews (Wave 2: June 2010 to March 2012), and then interviewed again approximately 2 and
a half years later (Wave 3: October 2012 to September 2014). Out of the total of 31,161 respondents at Wave 1,
approximately 24,000 (77%) and 17,000 (54%) completed the survey at Wave 2 and Wave 3, respectively.
Poststratification weights were applied to treat for possible attrition biases, which adjust attritions by assuming
that dropouts occur randomly within weighting classes defined by observed variables that are associated with
dropouts (Henderson, Hillygus, & Tompson, 2010).
KIM ET AL.5
3.2 |Sample
The sample for this study were adults aged 16 and older residing in the United Kingdom. In this study, the sample was
stratified into four groups: disabled women, disabled men, nondisabled women, and nondisabled men. A total of
4,552 (27%) respondents from Wave 3 did not respond to the disability question and thus was first removed. To
compare the trajectories of disabled and nondisabled men and women's economic wellbeing across three waves,
the present study focused on individuals who reported identical disability and gender statuses in all waves. Hence,
for example, respondents who reported to be nondisabled in Wave 1 but disabled in Wave 2 and/or Wave 3 were
excluded. On the basis of these criteria, a total of 6,159 individuals (n= 839 disabled women, n= 594 disabled
men, n= 2,304 nondisabled women, and n= 2,422 nondisabled men) were examined.
A total of 6,187 respondents from Wave 3 changed their disability status. Working aged (1664) individuals
were more likely to report disability offset (i.e., disabled but changed to nondisabled) than adults aged 65 and older,
whereas adults aged 65 and older were more likely to report acquiring disability in later waves. Respondents with
longterm pain had both high number of disability offset and acquired changes. Also, a total of 1,190 (20%) individuals
changed their disability status twice during the three waves. Our results correspond to the LOS report of disability
status changes (see Office for National Statistics, 2014, 2015 for further details).
The demographic characteristics of the sample are presented in Table 1. The statistics are an average of three
waves. Disabled women (45%) were less likely to be married than disabled men (56%) and nondisabled men (57%)
and women (60%). Also, disabled women (15%) were less likely to have a dependent child(ren) than nondisabled
men (29%) and women (36%), but they were slightly more likely to have a dependent child(ren) than disabled men
(13%). Disabled women (22%) were least likely to be employed among the four groups: disabled men (23%), nondis-
abled men (73%), and nondisabled women (64%). Furthermore, results indicated that fewer disabled women (39%)
had an Alevel or higher education degree than disabled men (43%) and nondisabled men (62%) and women (61%).
The average age of disabled women (62) was higher than both disabled men (59) and nondisabled men (48) and
women (48). Lastly, disabled women (2.0), on average, had fewer household members than disabled men (2.2) and
nondisabled men (2.8) and women (2.8).
TABLE 1 Description of the sample (Three waves average)
Characteristics
Disabled women
(n= 839)
Disabled men
(n= 594)
Nondisabled women
(n= 2,304)
Nondisabled men
(n= 2,422)
Have dependent child(ren) 14.7% 13.3% 35.8% 29.0%
Employed 21.5% 23.3% 63.6% 72.9
Married 44.6% 55.7% 59.6% 57.4%
Education
Degree level qualification 12.8% 10.5% 28.1% 28.8%
Higher education below degree level 21.4% 27.6% 20.6% 22.0%
Alevels/Higher 4.5% 4.7% 12.3% 11.5%
ONC/National BTEC 3.3% 5.2% 4.3% 7.5%
Olevel/GCSE (Grade AC)/CSE Grade 1 15.7% 14.0% 20.5% 15.4%
GCSE (Grade DG) /CSE Grade 25/
Standard Grade 46
4.8% 4.7% 4.4% 3.9%
No formal qualifications 37.4% 33.3% 9.9% 11.0%
Mean (SD) Mean (SD) Mean (SD) Mean (SD)
Age 62.1 (14.3) 59.2 (15.3) 48.4 (16.6) 47.5 (17.3)
Household size 2.0 (1.3) 2.2 (1.4) 2.8 (1.3) 2.8 (1.2)
Note. Values are weighted.
6KIM ET AL.
3.3 |Measures
3.3.1 |Independent variables
The independent variable for this study was whether or not the respondent was disabled. Respondents were defined
as disabled if they indicated having moderate, severe, or complete difficulties (5point scale: no difficulty;mild;
moderate;severe;complete) within at least one area of physical or mental functioning, and their activities were limited
as a result. Activitiesrefer to different areas of physical or mental functioning, such as walking, conversing with
others, or reading a newspaper even with aiding or special equipment (i.e., hearing aids or glasses). The present study
thus used the LOS definition of disability and did not construct this variable. This definition of disability is in line with
the social model, which views disability as the disadvantage or restriction of activity and participation caused by
social exclusion.
3.3.2 |Dependent variables
Economic wellbeing was examined using both a traditional pretax household income measure and respondents'
subjective assessments of their material hardship. Respondents' subjective determination of their economic condi-
tions is used to complement traditional income measures. This approach is taken because income measures often
overlook the variation in the costs of basic necessities (Citro & Michael, 1995; Gallie & Paugan, 2002). For example,
a person may have high household income but may have severe financial debts and experience difficulties making
ends meet. Thus, this study analysed both income and economic hardship variables to examine economic wellbeing
across multiple dimensions. The LOS included the following subjective material hardship assessments: financial loan
payments (yes versus no), severity of financial loan payments (heavy versus slight or not a burden), difficulties making
ends meet (great or some difficulties versus fairly or very easily), and ability to afford to pay an unexpected but
necessary expense of at least £500 (yes versus no). These items were validated in a previous U.K. study that exam-
ined the link between deaf and hardofhearing people and their economic security (McManus & Lord, 2012). In the
present study, weekly pretax household income was measured as a continuous variable.
3.3.3 |Control variables
The present study also controlled for several sociodemographic characteristics, including marital status (married or
other) and having one or more dependent children (yes or no). Educational attainment was coded as a seven
category, mutually exclusive ordinal variable (see Table 1 for detailed categorization). Age and household size were
coded as continuous variables. Finally, employment was coded as employed or unemployed based on the Interna-
tional Labour Organization definition of employment.
3.4 |Analytic strategy
For multivariate analyses, hierarchical linear and hierarchical liner logistic models were used to examine the trajecto-
ries of respondents' household income and other economic wellbeing outcomes. If we were to run a pooled ordinary
least square regression model with year dummies, the results would be biased because of repeated measures and
unobserved heterogeneity. The hierarchical linear (and logistic) models allow us to control for these biases
(Dmitrienko, ChaungStein, & D'Agostino, 2007; Menard, 2009). The hierarchical linear (and logistic) models enable
researchers to estimate individual development curves across time but also how factors (i.e., disability and gender)
influence these developments (Snijders, 2005).
In our study, due to the highly skewed distribution of income and its residuals, household income was modelled
with logtransformed data. As such, when interpreting the coefficient estimates obtained from this model, the
KIM ET AL.7
coefficients multiplied by 100 are interpreted as the percentage change in household income for disabled women
compared with disabled men and nondisabled men and women after controlling for other demographic characteris-
tics. Logistic models were estimated for other dependent economic wellbeing variables, which were presented as
odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals, for ease of interpretation.
Influential points were examined and removed. Influential points are observations that are both outliers and have
high leverage, which significantly affect the association of variables (UCLA Institute for Digital Research and Educa-
tion, 2015). In this study, influential points were examined using Pregibon's deltabeta influential statistic for logistic
models and Cook's Dstatistic for household income model (Mendenhall & Sincich, 1996; Sarkar, Habshah Midi, &
Rana, 2011). For the linear model of household income, 190 (1.2%) influential points were identified and removed.
Influential points in the logistic models were removed as follows: financial loan payments, 604 (3.3%); severity of
financial loan payments, 24(0.3%); difficulties in making ends meet, 275(1.5%); and affordability to pay an unexpected
but necessary expense of at least £500, 489 (2.6%). Multiple imputation was used to treat for the removed influential
points.
4|RESULTS
Table 2 presents the descriptive analysis of the economic wellbeing of disabled and nondisabled men and women
across three waves. Results showed that disabled women had the lowest weekly pretax household income and were
most likely to report their financial loan payments as heavy among the four groups in all three waves. On the other
hand, disabled men were most likely to report difficulties making ends meet and were least likely to be able to afford
to pay an unexpected but necessary expense of £500 in all three waves. Additionally, results revealed that nondis-
abled men and women were more likely to report having financial loan payments than disabled men and women in
all three waves.
In terms of trajectory, results indicated that disabled women's economic wellbeing improved between 2009 and
2014. Disabled women were less likely to live in households that had a financial loan (39% versus 32%) and perceive
their loan payments as heavy burdens (29% versus 27%) at Wave 3 than at Wave 1. Also, disabled women were more
able to afford to pay for an unexpected but necessary expense of £500 or more (62% versus 64%) at Wave 3 than at
Wave 1. Further, disabled women's weekly pretax household income increased by approximately 7% between Wave
3 and Wave 1 (405 versus 433). Similar patterns were also observed among disabled men and nondisabled men
and women. Results indicated that disabled men and nondisabled men and women's economic wellbeing also
improved between 2009 and 2014, except for making ends meet.
Between 2009 and 2014, disabled men experienced the greatest percentage drop in terms of financial loan pay-
ments (approximately 20% decrease) among the four groups. Also, they were the only group who did not report that
making ends meet had become more difficult at Wave 3 than at Wave 1. Nondisabled women reported the greatest
drop in terms of perceiving heavy financial loan payments between Wave 1 and Wave 3 (approximately 26%
decrease). Lastly, in terms of household income, nondisabled men's income increased the most between Wave 1
and Wave 3 among the four groups (12%): disabled women (7%), disabled men (7%), and nondisabled women (10%).
4.1 |Hierarchical linear model: Weekly pretax logged household income
Although not shown here, the null model was first examined to investigate if there was significant variation between
individuals. Results indicated that household income varied significantly between individuals (p< 0.001). Interclass
correlation showed that 75% of the variability in household income was due to differences across individuals,
whereas the remainder (25%) was attributable to income differences across waves.
Table 3 presents the final hierarchical linear model for weekly pretax household income as a function of disability
and gender after controlling for other demographic characteristics. A hypothesis test and VIF were conducted to test
8KIM ET AL.
for model specification and fitness. As noted above, in this model, weekly pretax household income was log
transformed. First, results showed that nondisabled women had 29% (p< 0.001) and nondisabled men had 27%
(p< 0.001) higher weekly household income than disabled women at Wave 1 after controlling for other demo-
graphic covariates. Second, disabled women's household income increased approximately 8% between Wave 1
and Wave 3 (p< 0.001). Third, however, the 8% rate change was not significantly different compared with
changes experienced by disabled men (12% increase), nondisabled women (3% increase), and nondisabled men
(6% increase) at the same time.
4.2 |Hierarchical linear logistic models: Material hardship
Null models were also tested to examine the variance between individuals. Results showed that whether one had
financial loan payments varied significantly from individual to individual (p< 0.001). The interclass correlation indi-
cated that 32% of the variance resided between individuals, and the remaining 68% was attributable to differences
across waves. Similarly, results indicated that there were significant variances between individuals in terms of
TABLE 2 Comparison of disabled and nondisabled men and women's economic wellbeing across three waves
Variables Wave1 Wave2 Wave3
Disabled women (n= 839)
Have financial loan payment 39.1% 34.5% 31.5%
Have heavy financial loan payment
a
29.2% 26.7% 27.0%
Have difficulties making ends meet 40.8% 41.6% 41.8%
Afford to pay for expenses of 500 or more 62.3% 63.5% 63.8%
Weekly pretax household income ()
b
405.3 (333.6) 427.8 (374.5) 433.2 (367.6)
Disabled men (n= 594)
Have financial loan payment 42.4% 39.5% 34.1%
Have heavy financial loan payment
a
26.8% 26.9% 22.9%
Have difficulties making ends meet 44.0% 44.5% 44.0%
Afford to pay for expenses of 500 or more 62.2% 60.9% 62.0%
Weekly pretax household income ()
b
436.2 (371.2) 451.3 (407.0) 467.0 (381.5)
Nondisabled women (n= 2,304)
Have financial loan payment 51.5% 49.3% 47.2%
Have heavy financial loan payment
a
12.9% 13.1% 9.5%
Have difficulties making ends meet 23.5% 25.7% 23.6%
Afford to pay for expenses of 500 or more 80.7% 80.8% 82.0%
Weekly pretax household income ()
b
785.7 (534.4) 831.8 (600.7) 861.8 (616.2)
Nondisabled men (n= 2,422)
Have financial loan payment 50.2% 47.9% 44.9%
Have heavy financial loan payment
a
13.0% 11.6% 9.7%
Have difficulties making ends meet 21.2% 24.3% 21.3%
Afford to pay for expenses of 500 or more 82.3% 80.1% 83.1%
Weekly pretax household income ()
b
823.7 (543.3) 877.6 (590.7) 926.4 (654.0)
Note. Values are weighted.
a
Respondents who reported they have financial loan payments were asked how severe (heavy versus minimum + not at all a
burden) their loan payments were.
b
Standard deviation in parentheses.
KIM ET AL.9
perceiving their loan payments as heavy burdens (p< 0.05), and interclass correlation results showed that individ-
ual differences accounted for 32% of the total variance. In terms of making ends meet, significant variances
existed between individuals (p< 0.001), and the interclass correlation was 40%. Lastly, results showed that there
were significant variances between individuals in terms of affordability to pay an unexpected but necessary
expense of at least £500, and interclass correlation showed that 44% of the total variance was attributed to indi-
vidual differences.
Tables 4 presents the final logistic hierarchical linear model results after controlling for the covariates. Hypoth-
esis tests and VIF were conducted to test for model specification and fitness.
First, results indicated that nondisabled women (OR = 0.75, p< 0.01) and men (OR = 0.66, p< 0.01) were signif-
icantly less likely to have financial loan payments than disabled women at Wave 1. In terms of longitudinal trajectory,
disabled women were significantly less likely to have financial loan payments at Wave 2 (OR = 0.77, p< 0.01) and at
Wave 3 (OR = 0.59, p< 0.01) than at Wave 1. However, the rate change at Wave 2 was not significantly different to
rate changes of disabled men and nondisabled men and women. On the other hand, there were significant rate
TABLE 3 Hierarchical linear regression result: Comparison of disabled and nondisabled men and women's trajec-
tory of logged weekly pretax household income
Variables Coefficients (SD)
Fixed effects
Intercept at Wave 1
Intercept (ref: disabled women) 5.70*** (0.03)
Disabled men 0.06 (0.03)
Nondisabled women 0.29*** (0.03)
Nondisabled men 0.27*** (0.04)
Wave 2 slope
Intercept 0.03 (0.02)
Disabled men 0.01 (0.03)
Nondisabled women 0.01 (0.02)
Nondisabled men 0.02 (0.02)
Wave 3 slope
Intercept 0.08*** (0.02)
Disabled men 0.04 (0.03)
Nondisabled women 0.05 (0.03)
Nondisabled men 0.02 (0.03)
Age (grandcentred) 0.01 (9.96e
4
)
Household size (grandcentred) 0.19*** (0.01)
Educational attainment (grandcentred) 0.05*** (0.01)
Dependent child (ren) 0.31*** (0.03)
Married 0.32*** (0.02)
Employed 0.45*** (0.03)
Random effects
Variance components
Level l residual variance (σ
2
) 0.13 (0.36)
Level 2 intercept (τ
00
) 0.27 (0.52)
Level 2 Wave 2 slope (τ
11
) 0.12 (0.35)
Hypothesis test results indicated that the model was more robust to have slope wave1 as a fixed effect.
*p< 0.05. **p< 0.01. ***p< 0.001.
10 KIM ET AL.
change differences among groups at Wave 3. Disabled women (OR = 0.59) had a significantly greater odd ratio
decrease at Wave 3 than nondisabled women (OR = 0.86 [0.59×1.46], p< 0.01) and nondisabled men (OR = 0.80
[0.59×1.35], p< 0.01).
Second, among those who had financial loan payments, disabled women were significantly more likely to report
heavy financial payments than nondisabled women (OR = 0.29, p< 0.001) and nondisabled men (OR = 0.31,
p< 0.001) at Wave 1. In terms of longitudinal trajectory, results revealed that disabled women were less likely to
report heavy financial loan payments at Wave 2 (OR = 0.81) and at Wave 3 (OR = 0.88) than at Wave 1; however,
the differences were not statistically significant. Also, there were no significant differences among groups in terms
of rate changes at Wave 2 and at Wave 3.
TABLE 4 Hierarchical linear logistic regression results: Comparisons of disabled and nondisabled men and women's
trajectory of economic hardship
Variables
Financial loan
payment
Heavy financial
loan payment
a
Difficulties in
making ends meet
Afford to pay
for expenses
of 500 or more
Fixed effects
Intercept at Wave 1
Intercept (ref: disabled women) 0.64 (0.53, 0.78)*** 0.46 (0.33, 0.63)*** 1.02 (0.82, 1.27) 1.10 (0.88, 1.39)
Disabled men 0.88 (0.69, 1.12) 0.92 (0.64, 1.33) 1.05 (0.80, 1.38) 1.04 (0.79, 1.38)
Nondisabled women 0.75 (0.58, 0.91)** 0.29 (0.21, 0.42)*** 0.25 (0.19, 0.32)*** 4.56 (3.47, 5.99)***
Nondisabled men 0.66 (0.52, 0.84)** 0.31 (0.21, 0.45)*** 0.24 (0.18, 0.31)*** 4.52 (3.40, 6.02)***
Wave 2 slope
Intercept 0.77 (0.64, 0.92)** 0.81 (0.61, 1.07) 1.11 (0.93, 1.33) 1.05 (0.86, 1.28)
Disabled men 1.26 (0.95, 1.66) 1.23 (0.80, 1.90) 1.06 (0.81, 1.41) 0.79 (0.60, 1.06)
Nondisabled women 1.22 (9.95, 1.55) 1.32 (0.87, 2.01) 1.09 (0.84, 1.42) 0.92 (0.68, 1.24)
Nondisabled men 1.18 (0.92, 1.50) 1.11 (0.72, 1.70) 1.18 (0.84, 1.67) 0.73 (0.50, 1.07)
Wave 3 slope
Intercept 0.59 (0.49, 0.70)*** 0.88 (0.64, 1.21) 0.95 (0.77, 1.16) 1.22 (1.01, 1.49)*
Disabled men 1.18 (0.90, 1.54) 0.88 (0.54, 1.40) 1.12 (0.82, 1.52) 0.80 (0.60, 1.07)
Nondisabled women 1.46 (1.14, 1.87)** 0.84 (0.51, 1.38) 1.26 (0.94, 1.71) 0.75 (0.56, 1.03)
Nondisabled men 1.35 (1.04, 1.76)* 0.86 (0.53, 1.39) 1.20 (0.85, 1.69) 0.75 (0.51, 1.10)
Age (grandcentred) 0.98 (0.98, 0.99)*** 0.98 (0.98, 0.99)** 0.98 (0.97, 0.98)*** 1.04 (1.03, 1.05)***
Household size (grandcentred) 1.08 (1.00, 1.17) 1.13 (1.01, 1.27)* 1.14 (1.04, 1.24)** 1.06 (0.96, 1.17)
Educational attainment (grand
centred)
0.97 (0.94, 1.00)* 1.14 (1.08, 1.20)*** 1.19 (1.13, 1.25)*** 0.82 (0.77, 0.86)***
Dependent child(ren) 1.15 (0.95, 1.34) 1.57 (1.19, 2.07)** 2.40 (1.93, 2.99)*** 0.30 (0.23, 0.38)***
Married 1.34 (1.12, 1.16)** 0.62 (0.48, 0.79)*** 0.46 (0.38, 0.55)*** 2.72 (2.23, 3.30)***
Employed 1.88 (1.63, 2.18)*** 1.14 (1.08, 1.20)** 0.70 (0.58, 0.83)*** 1.88 (1.57, 2.26)***
Random effects
b
Level 2 Intercept (τ
00
)
Variance component (SD)
1.32 (1.15) 1.33 (1.15) 1.69 (1.30) 2.04 (1.43)
Note. Odd ratios with 95% confidence interval in parentheses.
a
Respondents who reported they have financial loan payments were asked how severe (heavy versus minimum + not at all a
burden) their loan payments were. Heavycoded as 1 and minimum + not at all a burdencoded as 0.
b
Hypothesis test results indicated that the models were more robust to have slope Wave1 and Wave2 as fixed effects.
*p< 0.05. **p< 0.01. ***p< 0.001.
KIM ET AL.11
Third, disabled women were significantly more likely to report difficulties in making ends meet than nondisabled
women (OR = 0.25, p< 0.001) and nondisabled men (OR = 0.25, p< 0.001) at Wave 1. Results indicated that disabled
women's report on making ends meet did not change significantly over time, nor were there significant differences
among groups in terms of rate changes.
Lastly, disabled women were significantly less likely to be able to afford to pay an unexpected but necessary
expense of £500 or more than nondisabled women (OR = 4.56, p< 0.001) and nondisabled men (OR = 4.52,
p< 0.001) at Wave 1. Over time, disabled women were significantly more likely to be able to afford to pay £500
or more at Wave 3 than at Wave 1 (OR = 1.22, p< 0.05). However, there were no significant differences among
groups in terms of rate changes.
5|DISCUSSION
This study compared the material wellbeing of disabled and nondisabled men and women in the United Kingdom
using a large, nationally representative sample from 2009 to 2014. Results revealed that disabled women's eco-
nomic wellbeing improved significantly between 2009 and 2014 even after controlling for other demographic
covariates in the following three areas: household income, financial loan payments, and affordability to pay an
unexpected but necessary expense of £500 or more. Yet, despite these improvements, results showed the rate
of change was not significant enough to narrow the gap between disabled women and the other groups. Disabled
women remained significantly worse off than nondisabled men and women in 2014 as they were in 2009 in all
economic outcomes except for financial loan payments. Also, disabled women were economically worse off than
disabled men in terms of financial loan payments and the severity of their loan payments in 2014 and 2009; how-
ever, the differences were not significant.
5.1 |Limitations
Before discussing the study's implications, it is important to consider its limitations. First, this study relies on self
reported information from respondents. As with all research that does not corroborate information from independent
sources, these selfreported data are subject to both recall and social desirability biases. Second, the study examined
disabled and nondisabled men and women's economic wellbeing between 2009 and 2014. This is relatively short
term. Further studies are needed to examine the longterm trajectories of disabled and nondisabled men and
women's economic wellbeing. Yet, significant disability policyrelated changes occurred between 2009 and 2014,
such as the 2012 Welfare Reform Act, and we believe the present study provides important insight into
understanding changes in this pivotal period. Finally, the purpose of this study was to examine the impact of gender
and disability on the economic wellbeing of disabled women. Factors such as age and education may also interact
with disability and gender and produce significant impacts; however, it is beyond the scope of this paper, and we will
leave it to future researches to examine the intersections of disability, gender, and other demographic factors on eco-
nomic wellbeing.
Despite these limitations, this study has notable strengths. It employs a large, nationally representative sample of
men and women in the United Kingdom, and accommodations were provided to enable the disabled population to
participate in the survey. Second, several measures of financial wellbeing, including the traditional income measure
and subjective material hardship measures, provided a multidimensional assessment of economic wellbeing. Third,
this study is the first to empirically examine the intersection of discrimination against disabled women in the United
Kingdom and what the impacts are using the LOS data. Although the discourse on intersecting discrimination is not
new, the field lacks systematic empirical investigations of the relationship between the intersection of disability and
gender on the wellbeing of disabled women in the United Kingdom. The study investigated the association between
gender, disability, and economic wellbeing and explored whether and to what extent disabled women experience
12 KIM ET AL.
additional economic difficulty compared with disabled men and nondisabled men and women. Lastly, the study is also
the first longitudinal study in the United Kingdom to examine and compare the trajectories of disabled women, dis-
abled men, and nondisabled men and women's economic wellbeing over time.
5.2 |Policy implications
First, our results indicate that the disabled population, regardless of their gender, had markedly worse economic
wellbeing compared with the nondisabled population in the United Kingdom. Consistent in all three waves,
disabled people were significantly worse off than nondisabled people in all economic outcomes. The magnitude
of these disability disparities is striking, particularly in light of the range of benefits that are available to
disabled adults in the United Kingdom. As noted above, at the time the LOS data were collected, disabled adults
could receive a Disability Living Allowance (PIP after 2012), an Attendance Allowance, and ESA. These benefits
provided direct income transfers and support for personal attendants or care workers. Because these benefits
were counted in household income and analysed here, the findings of the present study indicate that disability
benefit systems in the United Kingdom were not sufficient to reduce the economic hardship of disabled people.
Furthermore, recent U.K. policymakers' proposal to cut disability benefits contravenes our research findings
(Kennedy, 2015). Cutting disability benefits will likely exacerbate the economic hardship experienced by disabled
people and will also result in considerable longterm financial costs to the government. One report found that
65% of working respondents reported that without disability benefits to support disability costs, such as the
Disability Living Allowance, or, in the current context, the PIP, they would not be able to work, and 30% of
respondents reported that their carers would not be able to work without these benefits (Kaye, Jordan, & Baker,
2012). Hence, disability benefit cuts will likely result in increased unemployment among disabled people and
subsequently lead to increased poverty and hardship of this population. Within the disabled population,
disabled women, whose economic wellbeing is most precarious, are particularly more likely to be affected by
disability benefit cuts.
Second, the study discovered that the disparities between disabled women and disabled men were smaller than
the disparities between disabled women and nondisabled women, indicating that disability played a more negative
impact than gender on disabled women in the United Kingdom. Multivariate results showed that disabled women
were overall worse off than both disabled men and nondisabled women; however, the difference between disabled
women and disabled men was not significant, whereas it was significant between disabled women and nondisabled
women. These findings provide potentially important information to policymakers interested in protecting the
wellbeing of disabled women and provide empirical evidence to support policies that better address the needs
and economic security of disabled women.
Third, our multivariate results indicated that disabled women were overall more economically marginalized than
disabled men and nondisabled men and women. Further, our demographic descriptive analysis also showed that
disabled women were least likely to be employed and married and had the lowest education attainment among
the groups. However, neither disability policies nor gender policies in the United Kingdom address the intersecting
discrimination experienced by disabled women. In the United Kingdom, gender policies tend to ignore the needs
of disabled women, and disability policies tend to have a genderblind approach. We suggest that policies should
adopt a more intersectional approach, which understands the elevated marginalization experienced by disabled
women, and which accrues because of both gender and disability. Policies should aim to increase access and
opportunities for disabled women to improve their economic autonomy. The links between poverty, disability, and
gender must be considered in the U.K. policies.
Lastly, our multivariate results indicated that disabled women's economic wellbeing improved between 2009
and 2014 even after controlling for other demographic factors in aspects such as household income, financial loan
payments, and affordability to pay an unexpected but necessary expense of £500 or more. Although these are
KIM ET AL.13
noticeable achievements, it is important to consider that factors such as inflation may have played part. Annual infla-
tion during the 20092014 period ranged from 1.5% to 4.5% over that period, and the average inflation rate was
2.8% (RateInflation, 2018). Notably, there were no significant changes in disabled women's perception of difficulties
in making ends meet and severity of their financial loan payments. Further, disabled women's rate of change between
2009 and 2014 compared with other groups was also not significantly different. Disparities between the groups
remained more or less similar. Further, our descriptive results (see Table 2) showed that disabled women's household
income increased approximately 6.8% between 2009 and 2014; however, it was the lowest among the four groups:
disabled men (7.1%), nondisabled women (9.6%), and nondisabled men (12.4%). Hence, in longitudinal studies or in
government assessments, it is important to not only examine the changes of target population but also compare
populations to avoid timebased biases.
6|CONCLUSION
The study examined the economic wellbeing of disabled and nondisabled men and women on multiple dimensions
using a nationally representative sample from the 20092014 LOS. The study is the first longitudinal study to empir-
ically compare the economic wellbeing of disabled women in contrast with disabled men and nondisabled men and
women. The study contributes to understanding (a) the longitudinal changes of disabled women's economic well
being between 2009 and 2014 and (b) whether and to what extent intersectional discrimination against disabled
women exists in the United Kingdom compared with disabled men and nondisabled men and women. The study indi-
cates that disabled women's economic wellbeing improved between 2009 and 2014; however, the improvements
were not significant to narrow the disparities between disabled women and other groups. Disabled women remained
economically worse off than both disabled men and nondisabled men and women in 2014 as they were in 2009. And
the disparities between disabled women and nondisabled men and women were, in particular, substantial.
Intersectional discrimination against disabled women is a common recurring issue worldwide. The World Health
Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 1 billion people worldwide (15% of the world's population) have a dis-
ability, and more than half are women (WHO, 2011). Over 200 million disabled women live below the poverty line
(WHO, 2011). The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) recognizes that disabled women
and girls are subject to multiple discriminations and demonstrates a commitment to gender equality by devoting a specific
article to addressing issues specific to disabled women and girls (Article 6). However, the CRPD is unique in recognizing
disabled women as a distinct group. Although disabled women and girls are included, in principle, in all human rights
agreements, in reality, they are rarely referenced specifically and are often overlooked in mainstream discourse. We
consider that similar analyses in other countries (where there are available data) would be invaluable, as similar processes
of intersectional discrimination and disadvantage are likely to be found and need to be addressed. Further, the CRPD's
Concluding observations on initial report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland(United
Nations, 2017) raised concerns about the lack of measures and available data concerning the impact of multiple and
intersectional discrimination against women and girls with disabilities.This paper contributes to this international
debate and adds impetus for further work and data collection in this field, especially given the loss of LOS after Wave 3.
ORCID
Eun Jung Kim https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6700-9833
Susan L. Parish https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9045-1750
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KIM ET AL.17
... This example is inspired by the work ofBright et al. (2016) andKim et al. (2019). That only the variables gender, race and disability status are used in this model and that they are treated as binary merely serves to simplify the exposition. ...
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