Earnings of persons with disabilities: Who earns more (less) from entrepreneurial pursuit?

Yang Yang, Mukta Kulkarni, David Baldridge, Alison M. Konrad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Persons with disabilities (PWD) are among the largest and most diverse minority groups and among the most disadvantaged in terms of employment. Entrepreneurial pursuit is often advocated as a path toward employment, inclusion, and equality, yet few studies have investigated earning variation among PWD. Design/methodology/approach: The authors draw on social cognitive career theory (SCCT), and the disability employment and entrepreneurship literature to develop hypotheses about who among PWD are likely to earn more (less) from entrepreneurial pursuits. The authors then conduct analyses on the nationally representative sample of the Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD) by including all PWD engaged in entrepreneurial pursuit, and matching each to an organizationally employed counterpart of the same gender and race and of similar age and disability severity (n ≈ 810). Findings: Entrepreneurial pursuit has a stronger negative association with the earnings of PWD who experience earlier disability onset ages, those who report more unmet accommodation needs, and those who are female. Originality/value: First, this study applies SCCT to help bridge the literature on organizational employment barriers for PWD and entrepreneurs with disabilities. Second, we call into question the logic of neoliberalism about entrepreneurship by showing that barriers to organizational employment impact entrepreneurial pursuit decisions and thereby earnings. Third, we extend the understanding of entrepreneurial earnings among PWD by examining understudied disability attributes and demographic attributes. Lastly, this study is among the first to use a matched sample to empirically test the impact of entrepreneurial pursuit on the earnings of PWD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-865
Number of pages19
JournalEquality, Diversity and Inclusion
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 16 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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