OECD countries show marked differences in their approaches to ensuring financial self-sufficiency for people with disabilities. Some rely more on compensation through income transfers. Others are more active in ensuring that people with disabilities can successfully integrate into the labour market.
The chart below maps two indexes for the 13 comparator countries included in the OECD’s analysis for 2000. The Index of Compensation takes into account 10 policy parameters related to the extent of coverage of the benefit system, levels, and duration. The Index of Integration measures 10 policy parameters related to access to employment and training programs, work incentives, and the prevalence of subsidized employment programs.
For each index, the 10 parameters are each ranked on a scale of 0 to 5, meaning that the top score on each index is 50. A high score on the Index of Compensation means that the country provides more support to people with disabilities. A high score on the Index of Integration means that the country has a strong focus on integrating people with disabilities into the workforce.2
The chart shows that Canada, the U.K., and the U.S. provided the least amount of financial support (compensation) to people with disabilities relative to their peer countries. Denmark and Germany focused strongly on policies that promoted employment (integration). Norway and Sweden used both policy tools, characterized by generous disability compensation system and a strong focus on integration.
Over time, however, most OECD countries have strengthened their integration policy elements and made their compensation policies less generous. The OECD states that the transformation of disability schemes from passive benefits to active support systems that promote work is promising, but that more reform is needed to promote employment integration. Reforms suggested by the OECD include:
- introducing and fostering anti-discrimination legislation
- increasing employers’ obligations toward people with disabilities
- streamlining administration and individualization of case management
- increasing work incentives for people with disabilities3