Institute on Disability


Striving to Work


Using data from the 2011–2015 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement, this study improves upon standard United States labor force measures to create three new measures which better capture the range of activities and attitudes that signal, at the individual level, an interest in work. When comparing the traditional employment-to-population ratio and the labor force participation rate with these new ‘striving to work’ measures, we find stark racial differences across measures. Hispanics have slightly higher odds of being employed or in the labor force than non-Hispanic whites, yet have similar odds of striving to work. Other vulnerable populations, including non-Hispanic blacks, non-Hispanic persons of other non-white races, females, and persons with disabilities, have significantly lower odds of participation in any of the five measures, compared to their comparison groups and controlling for other covariates. Policy implications are discussed.

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Journal Title

Social Indicators Research

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Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017