Date of Award

Summer 8-27-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Montez, Jennifer Karas


Disability, Employment, Intersectionality, Labor market inequalities

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


While approximately 10% of adults ages 18 to 64 living in the United States identify as having a disability, workers with disabilities make up only 3% of the labor force (Livermore and Schimmel Hyde 2020; Paul et al. 2020). When compared to their non-disabled counterparts, those with disabilities have lower employment rates and earnings, are more likely to work in precarious and low wage jobs and report higher levels of workplace discrimination (BLS 2020; Maroto and Pettinicchio 2014b; Robert and Harlan 2006). Yet, recent evidence suggests that disabled people's labor market disadvantages may be disproportionately experienced by those with multiple marginalized statuses, such as women with disabilities, disabled people of color, and those with more significant and multiple disabilities (Pettinicchio and Maroto 2017; Brooks 2019c; Shaw et al. 2012; Kadijk et al.2018). Informed by the Disablement Process, Cumulative Inequality theory, and Intersectionality, this dissertation examines the factors related to the intersectional connections between race/ethnicity, gender, disability type and combination, and labor market disadvantages. Using data from the American Community Survey, this dissertation employs logistic regression models to predict employment probabilities for those with and without disabilities, stratified by race/ethnicity, gender, and limitation type, as well as combinations of these statuses. These models adjust for individual characteristics, receipt of government assistance, and several state-level policies and characteristics. This dissertation also estimates the number of years over the working life span that an individual can expect to be employed while disabled. Findings show that disparities in labor market disadvantages among certain sub-groups of those with disabilities are reduced when accounting for individual characteristics and receipt of government assistance, suggesting that the intersectional effects of race/ethnicity, gender, and disability on certain aspects of a disabled individual's life, such as education and government assistance, "spillover" to affect their labor-market outcomes. Findings from this dissertation suggest several policy innovations, including a restructuring of the network of disability-specific government assistance programs, a federal subsidy for workplace accommodations, and the centering of the voices of those most marginalized when it comes to policy creation.


Open Access

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Sociology Commons