The UK Disability Discrimination Act 2005: Consequences for the education and employment of older children

Marco Ercolani, Emiliya Lazarova

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We investigate the impact of the 2005 UK Disability Discrimination Act on the educational and employment outcomes for older children with disabilities, using data from the UK Labour Force Surveys. The Act established new legal requirements on employers and qualification awarding bodies to accommodate individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, prior to 2013 children in England and Wales could leave education at age 16, providing a unique opportunity to analyse the 2005 Act’s influence on their educational and employment outcomes. Compared to children without disabilities, we found the 2005 Act reduced the likelihood of continuing in education and increased the likelihood of entering the labour market (employed or unemployed) for children meeting both the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act definition of disability and who were reported as work-limited. We also 'decompose' average outcomes between children’s groups, identifying effects attributable to observable characteristics, discrimination, and unobservable health-related productivity gaps.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102544
JournalEconomics of Education Review
Early online date13 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 May 2024


  • Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition
  • Children’s education
  • Children’s employment
  • Disability legislation
  • Discrimination

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