Journal of Social Policy


Child Disability and the Dynamics of Family Poverty, Hardship and Financial Strain: Evidence from the UK


a1 School of Health, WINTEC, Hamilton, New Zealand

a2 Professor of Disability and Health Research, Centre for Disability Research, School of Health and Medicine, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YT

a3 Director of the National Statistical Consultancy Service, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Lancaster University

a4 Director of the Postgraduate Statistics Centre, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Lancaster University


Disabled children are significantly more likely to grow up in poverty than their non-disabled peers. We used longitudinal data from Waves 3–7 (2001–2005) of the UK Families and Children Study to explore the relationship between the presence of a disabled child in the family and poverty transitions. When compared to other families, families supporting a disabled child are more likely to be exposed to persistent or recurrent poverty, less likely to escape from an episode of poverty and more likely to descend into poverty. However, statistically controlling for the effects of salient family characteristics either attenuates, eliminates or reverses these associations. That is, when compared to other families with similar levels of personal and social resources, families supporting a disabled child are no more likely to escape from or descend into poverty than other families. Results are discussed in relation to the need for social policy to invest in strengthening the broader capabilities of families of disabled children.

(Online publication December 09 2010)


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