Professor David Pettinicchio on Disability and Cumulative Economic Disadvantage

Professor David Pettinicchio’s research was highlighted and discussed in The Society Pages, in the Discoveries section of the blog The Society Pages  (TSP) is an open-access social science project operated from Department of Sociology at the University of Minnesota with support from individual donors. The Discoveries page highlights “new and exciting research from the journals, vetted and summarized by the TSP graduate editorial board.”

The blog discussed Pettinichio’s research paper entitled “Hierarchies of Categorical Disadvantage: Economic Insecurity at the Intersection of Disability, Gender, and Race.” The paper was written in collaboration with Professors Michelle Maroto (University of Alberta) and Andrew C. Patterson (MacEwan University), and published in Gender and Society. The article uses feminist disability and intersectional theories in analyzing the ways disability intersects with gender, race, and education to produce economic insecurity.  Their findings are based on analyses of the 2015 American Community Survey data and demonstrate hierarchies of disadvantage, where women and racial minority groups with disabilities and less education experience the highest poverty levels, the lowest total income, and rely more than others on sources outside the labour market for economic security.

Professor Pettinicchio is an Assistant Professor of Sociology with teaching duties at the UTM campus. He is interested in the development of political constituencies and their ongoing interaction with political institutions, with a focus on the relationship between political entrepreneurship, grassroots mobilization and policy change. He has published works in scholarly journals such as Law and Policy, British Journal of Social Psychology, and Comparative Sociology.

An excerpt of the article is included below (read the full article here).

We hear a lot about the gender pay gap and the racial wealth gap, but rarely about how disability also affects economic security. New research by Michelle Maroto, David Pettinicchio, and Andrew C. Patterson investigates how disability interacts with gender, race, and education level to influence economic stratification in the United States. The researchers analyze data from the 2015 American Community Survey (ACS), focusing on poverty status and total personal income (earnings, governmental income, savings). The ACS identifies people with disabilities as anyone who has cognitive, ambulatory, independent living, self-care, vision, or hearing difficulty. Instead of analyzing race, education, and gender separately, the researchers created 24 different groups where these identities intersect (e.g., black women with a bachelor’s degree, white men without a bachelor’s, Asian Pacific Islander women with a bachelor’s, and so on).

Overall, the effects of disability on poverty were strongest for women, racial minorities, and those with low levels of education. Specifically, disability had the largest effects on poverty for black and Hispanic women with low levels of education. White and Asian men with high levels of education were the least affected. In other words, if individuals already have racial, educational, and gendered privilege, these components may insulate people with disabilities from falling into poverty — in this case, highly educated white and Asian men. On the other hand, women and racial minorities who are already at a greater risk of poverty do not have that insulation.

Read the full story.