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Trajectories of Work Disability and Economic Insecurity Approaching Retirement

Tue, August 15, 2:30 to 4:10pm, Palais des congrès de Montréal, Level 5, 514C


Although disability and socioeconomic status are interrelated, reciprocal processes beginning early in life, much research focuses on cross-sectional prevalence or later life disability rather than long-term trajectories. In this paper we conceptualize work disability as a mechanism linking early and later life economic disadvantage. We model trajectories of work disability characterized by timing and stability for a cohort of Baby Boomers (22-32 in 1981) using 32 years of data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and latent class analysis. Measures of childhood disadvantage are included as predictors of disability trajectories, which are subsequently included in logistic regression models predicting four economic outcomes (poverty, asset poverty, home, and pension ownership) at age 54-64. Childhood disadvantage selected individuals into five distinct classes of work disability that differed in timing and stability. All of the disability trajectories placed individuals at an increased risk of economic insecurity compared to the never disabled. This study contributes to the aging literature through its incorporation of the early life origins of pathways of disability and their links to economic outcomes approaching retirement. Findings suggest work disability is anchored in childhood circumstances and links early disadvantage and later life economic insecurity.


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