Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version

5-27-2020

Abstract

Disability is neither a purely medical nor a purely social phenomenon. Rather, it is an outcome of their interplay. The main contributions of our study are two-fold: (i) a synthesis of the extant literature on the links between poverty and disability in LMICs. However, the studies focused on these links in rural areas are sparse. (ii) As rural economies-specifically, agriculture- continue to play an important role in economic growth, it is necessary to deepen our understanding of factors associated with rural disabilities, their association with rural employment and, finally, whether disabilities are associated with rural poverty. We use panel data for India and Ethiopia to illustrate these linkages, using rigorous econometric methodology. In particular, an important contribution is to corroborate the bidirectional association between disability and poverty, noted in many but validated in a few. The CRPD has ensured a concomitant shift in global initiatives, most notably the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which explicitly recognise disability as a major impediment to elimination of poverty and hunger. In the current development discourse, disability has thus acquired high priority. Although there is a plethora of legislation banning discrimination against the disabled in LMICs-including India and Ethiopia and other LMICs-discrimination against disabled women and elderly is rampant. While it is imperative to fix the policy failures, a remedial strategy has to mainstream the disabled in a sustainable rural development framework, with a key role of the community and mass media in dismantling the barriers to the participation of the disabled in the political, economic and social spheres. Although the challenges are formidable, our study offers grounds for optimism.

Keywords

rural disabilities, employment, poverty, pervasive and persistent discrimination, policy failures, LMICs, India, Ethiopia

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Date Posted: 02 June 2020