Press Release Health and Social Programs Inequality United States

To Break the Link Between Disability and Poverty, CEPR Joins New Initiative

April 21, 2022

Contact: KL Conner, 202-281-4159Mail_Outline

Washington — The Center for Economic and Policy Research has joined the new, first-of-its-kind initiative, Disability Economic Justice Collaborative. CEPR is in the good company of over 20 leading disability advocacy organizations, think tanks, and top research organizations with a collective commitment to break the persistent link between disability and poverty, and achieve economic justice for disabled people in the United States.

The Disability Economic Justice Collaborative launches today with the release of a foundational report and a virtual presentation and discussion from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM ET. (Register here to learn more about DEJC from members and several distinguished speakers.)

CEPR researchers Hayley Brown, Julie Cai, and Shawn Fremstad, coauthored a report with The Century Foundation, Economic Justice Is Disability Justice, which lays out the breadth and depth of the economic crisis facing the disability community. The report’s findings lay the groundwork for DEJC to address policy failures, from inadequate affordable, accessible housing and transportation, to a long history of disinvestment in community living supports. 

There are 61 million, or more than one-in-four, US adults with disabilities, yet economic policy conversations rarely include a disability lens. Even the mass disabling of the COVID-19 pandemic has not expanded that conversation. 

“Barriers to economic security and inclusion for people with disabilities remain relatively under-discussed in mainstream policy circles,” said coauthor Brown. “But economic justice for all cannot be achieved without addressing the ways structural inequality harms disabled people and their loved ones.”

More than 31 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act became law, the report finds pervasive discrimination and a litany of structural barriers to economic security and upward mobility. Disabled people of color face even greater economic disparities and rates of poverty and hardship due to a combination of structural as well as cultural ableism and racism.

Furthermore, the report finds that in the US:

  • Working-age adults with disabilities face poverty rates twice as high as nondisabled peers in 2020.
  • Working-age adults with disabilities were paid an average of 74 cents for every dollar paid to their nondisabled peers in 2020.
  • The poverty rate among Black disabled adults was 28 percent in 2019 — fully 10 percentage points higher than for white disabled adults.

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