Methods: We pool data from the 2018-2020 SIPP panels. SIPP includes measures of a child’s health status and detailed measures of household income and program participation. Our disability measure is an indicator for whether a child has difficulty with: playing with other children; school work; seeing; hearing; cognition; ambulation; or self-care. It also includes children under 5 with a developmental delay. Our sample includes approximately 4,400 households with a child under 18 with a disability, representing just under one-quarter of all households with children in our sample. We examine overall economic well-being using household income, poverty status, public benefit receipt (including SNAP, SSI, SSDI, TANF, and other income supports), and measures of economic hardship contained in the SIPP. We first use descriptive analyses to compare overall levels of income and economic well-being, and then use regression analyses (OLS) to account for potential confounding characteristics. Because we expect structural racism to further influence the economic well-being of families, we examine heterogeneity by child’s race.
Results: We find that households with children with disabilities have a monthly household income that is, on average, approximately $2,200 less than other households with children (p<.001), and that these households have a 67% higher likelihood of having annual earnings below the poverty threshold (p<.001). Further, households with children with disabilities are five percentage points more likely to report high food insecurity (p<.001).
Conclusions and Implications: Families with children with disabilities are more likely to live in poverty and more likely to report decreased economic well-being across measures than other families. This suggests that, in addition to supporting families with needed services, social workers can play an important role in advocating for policy and income supports to battle inequities for these families. Further, despite methodological and measurement challenges, social work researchers, including quantitative researchers, have an obligation to continue to strive to understand the economic circumstances of and policy impacts on families with children with disabilities with the goal of promoting economic justice for this group of families.