Abstract: Economic Well-Being of Households with Children with Disabilities: Recent Evidence from SIPP (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

Economic Well-Being of Households with Children with Disabilities: Recent Evidence from SIPP

Friday, January 13, 2023
Camelback B, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Molly Costanzo, PhD, Research Scientist, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Aaron Reilly, BA, Project Assistant, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI
Background and Purpose: A growing number of families in the US are raising children with disabilities (Zablontsky et al., 2019). One of the many equity issues facing these families is economic well-being. Families often incur steep economic costs stemming from out-of-pocked medical costs or increased costs for needed services (Mitra et al., 2017; Stabile & Allin, 2012), and caregiving may be more intense, limiting parental work and earnings. Previous work has demonstrated that households with a child with a disability fare worse across measures of economic well-being, including income, assets, and material hardship (Ghosh & Parish, 2013; Parish & Cloud, 2006; Sonik et al., 2016;); however, these estimates rely on data that is now over a decade old and do not reflect important changes in the economy or social benefits. Using recent nationally-representative data, this study aims to provide updated evidence of the economic well-being of households of children with disabilities, including different income sources, and how this compares to households with typically-developing children.

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.