The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Building Financial Capability for Inclusive Economic Participation: A Qualitative Study of Youth With Disabilities in Beijing, China

Thursday, January 16, 2014: 3:30 PM
HBG Convention Center, Room 002B River Level (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Suo Deng, PhD, Assistant Professor, Peking University, Beijing, China
Yu Meng, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Nanyang Technical University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
Purpose: Financial capability is considered an important indicator of development for young people transitioning to adulthood. Compared to the mainstream young population, those with physical, mental, intellectual, and other types of disabilities often face greater barriers to financial security and independence. Thus, they are at higher risk for lifelong poverty and dependency on public programs. Studies demonstrate that enormous personal, family, and social costs are associated with unsuccessful transitions of disabled youth. These costs include substantial and negative impacts on their economic and socio-psychological well-being (Fraker and Rangarajan 2009; Knapp et al. 2008).

With a few exception, the existed literature rarely focus on the financial life of youth with disabilities including how they perceive financial security, make financial decisions or access to financial services. Even less attention is given to measure their financial capability and probe the effect of financial capability on the disabled youth’s economic participation, particularly employment opportunity. This study makes a preliminary effort to bridge the research gaps and proposes suggestions for policy intervention.  

Methods: The researchers deployed in-depth interview to collect data in Beijing, China from October of 2012 to January of 2013. A total of 35 disabled youth aged 16-25 and 16 of their parent (either mother or father) were eventually interviewed. With the agreement of the participants, all interviews were taped and transcribed afterward. The qualitative data were systematically coded for subsequent analysis.  The researcher adopts a grounded theory approach to data analysis (Strauss, 1987). 

Results: This qualitative study, complementary to the existed literature, finds the relatively low level of financial capability among the disabled youth in China. Both demographic and institutional factors are related to the disabled youth’s financial disabilities measured by access to financial services and possession of basic financial knowledge and skills. More challenges facing many participants’ financial life were from their limited institutional opportunities to mainstream financial services such as holding a bank account and access to structural saving programs.  Their restricted financial capabilities had adverse effect on economic participation especially acquiring employment opportunities and achieving development prospects.

Implications: The study has important implications for policy interventions targeted disabled population.  More inclusive social programs should be available for the youth with disabilities to broaden their access to financial services and build their capabilities to make independent financial decisions for long-term development.  Governments can accomplish much through social innovations including carefully-designed asset-based youth development accounts.