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Milbank Q. 1994;72(4):593-619.

Making work more central to work disability policy.

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  • 1Arthritis Research Group, University of California-San Francisco 94143-0920.


The labor market trajectory of persons with and without disabilities is charted for the years 1981 through 1993. Data from the March Supplement to the Current Population Survey for these years show that changes in the labor market and in the specific work history of persons with disabilities are the main determinants both of their current employment situation and of whether they will lose or find jobs. Thus, the state of the overall labor market sets the basic parameters of employment among persons with disabilities, and then the specific work history of individuals determines whether they, among all persons with disabilities, will be working or will lose or find jobs. Public policy toward work disability must focus more on the impact both of trends in the labor market and of work history because these factors are crucial in determining the work outcomes of persons with disabilities.

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