This report looks at whether families with a disabled child face greater socio-economic disadvantag and if so, how does the risk of disadvantage vary with age?
Disability is typically associated with a greater risk of socio-economic disadvantage. However, we know relatively little about the extent to which disabled children are born into more disadvantaged families or whether disadvantage accumulates during childhood. Moreover, there has been little opportunity to explore whether the pattern is the same across different measures of disability and at different ages.
This summary outlines research that explores these issues, using data from two cohort studies that follow the lives of children and young people over time: the Millennium Cohort Study and the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England.
- Child disability is associated with family socio-economic disadvantage. This is the case in both younger childhood and in adolescence, and with any measure of disability used. However, the association is greatest for those identified as having Special Educational Needs (SEN).
- The extent to which disadvantage increases over time varies with both the measure of disability and with age. The circumstances of teenagers are more stable than those of younger children.
- There is some evidence that having a disabled child raises family stress, increasing disadvantage; but also that children defined as disabled are more likely to come from disadvantaged families.