Disability, inequality and income redistribution

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Disability, inequality and income redistribution

Elena Bárcena, Salvador Pérez and Fernando Morilla, University of Málaga;
Project selected in the Call to support research projects on social inequality (LL2020_5)

People living in households with at least one member with disability have lower income levels and higher incidence of poverty than the rest of the population. This disability gap tended to widen during the last period of economic recovery in such a way that its structural nature became clear, as well as the fact that people in these households tend to participate less in the recovery than the rest of the population. This study analyses the extent to which various cash benefits do or do not ensure a level of income that allows disabled households to alleviate their economic vulnerability and risk of poverty. Although cash benefits reduce the incidence and intensity of poverty in Spain, their level of both expenditure and coverage are still far from the levels evident in the compared system.
Key points
  • 1
       The income of people in disabled households is systematically below that of the rest of the population, a gap that widened with the economic recovery.
  • 2
       The poverty rate of people in disabled households increased by 4.5 percentage points between 2012 and 2018, while that of the rest of the population decreased.
  • 3
       The impact of disability cash benefits on income has tended to rise in Spain since 2007, from an increase in income of 8.5% in 2007 to an increase of 16.8% in 2018.
  • 4
       Although there has been a greater reduction in the poverty rate stemming from disability cash benefits over the past decade, even topping 10 percentage points, the disability poverty gap has widened.
  • 5
       Disability cash benefits in Spain have reduced the intensity of poverty in Spain, although this drop is half of that observed in Sweden, Denmark or the Netherlands.
  • 6
       Public spending on disability benefits in Spain (1.6% of GDP) is just over a third of that in Denmark and just over half of that in Sweden.
  • 7
       The average amount of disability cash benefits in Spain helps to lift recipients above the poverty line, but these benefits only reach one in four people with disabilities.
Incidence of poverty has fallen by around 10 percentage points due to the effect of disability cash benefits
Incidence of poverty has fallen by around 10 percentage points due to the effect of disability cash benefits

Poverty rate among people in disabled households prior to and following DCB payments, Spain, 2007-2018.

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