Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2015;41(5):451-459    pdf full text

doi:10.5271/sjweh.3515

Perceived fairness of pay among people with and without disabilities: a propensity score matched analysis of working Australians

by Milner A, Zoe Aitken, Krnjacki L, Bentley R, Blakely T, LaMontagne AD, Kavanagh AM

Objectives Equity and fairness at work are associated with a range of organizational and health outcomes. Past research suggests that workers with disabilities experience inequity in the workplace. It is difficult to conclude whether the presence of disability is the reason for perceived unfair treatment due to the possible confounding of effect estimates by other demographic or socioeconomic factors.

Methods The data source was the Household, Income, and Labor Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey (2001–2012). Propensity for disability was calculated from logistic models including gender, age, education, country of birth, and father’s occupational skill level as predictors. We then used nearest neighbor (on propensity score) matched analysis to match workers with disabilities to workers without disability.

Results Results suggest that disability is independently associated with lower fairness of pay after controlling for confounding factors in the propensity score matched analysis; although results do suggest less than half a standard deviation difference, indicating small effects. Similar results were apparent in standard multivariable regression models and alternative propensity score analyses (stratification, covariate adjustment using the propensity score, and inverse probability of treatment weighting).

Conclusions Whilst neither multivariable regression nor propensity scores adjust for unmeasured confounding, and there remains the potential for other biases, similar results for the two methodological approaches to confounder adjustment provide some confidence of an independent association of disability with perceived unfairness of pay. Based on this, we suggest that the disparity in the perceived fairness of pay between people with and without disabilities may be explained by worse treatment of people with disabilities in the workplace.

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