Analysis Datasets Perspective

Trends in Livability with a Cognitive Disability

I didn’t fully understand the difficulties of what it meant to get to work with an illness until having one. On an individual level, it’s a grind to get work. Sometimes you never find it. Sometimes you get lucky and find a savior to help pick you up and give you work. Then, manage the condition (disease + stigma) in order to live a life. A lot is mentioned about this in the previous post.

Though, looking into the issue on a US (aggregate) level, the data shows some promising signs since 2012. Namely, household income (from Cornell’s Disability Statistics) has grown well while disability insurance applications with Social Security (via online applications) has decreased consistently. We’re talking about net changes in the 9-10% variety for some years. That’s the great!

The good? For some reason, employment is getting better. Yes, the number of people disabled and out of the laborforce is still huge (in the 2M+ population range and a 4x difference than those disabled and employed), but employment rates in this group are increasing since 2015, consistently, as well. What might be the cause here?

As this blog is called “Mindful Data” rather than “Disability Data”, I’ll delve into the subset of data points specific around a mental health condition. Namely, what’s been the biggest change since 2012 that might result in more people getting to work and earning more with what’s deemed as a disability? Well, after some data mining on Google Scholar, believe the answer resides in a concerted effort to improve efforts via our Judicial Branch in the United States. Look at this:

2010-2012 not only coincided with the “Replication Crisis”, but also a major uptick in case law on the Federal level for mental health conditions. 2012 alone comprised of a huge 28% y-o-y increase in court cases seen on the Federal level regarding these types of conditions. The following year saw a large ~6.3% y-o-y increase in annual earnings and, further, a consistent y-o-y increase in earning income starting in 2015.

Two points to make on this with a key metric and outcome society, and the field, focuses on:

  • US Suicide Rate saw a significant ~3.6x spike in 2017
  • In 2012, where earnings increased by ~6.3% in the same year, the suicide rate dropped by ~9x (!!!)

What do I make of this based on my experience? Livability is crucial to stay alive. People don’t have a right to work; though, do have a right to live. We’re all living to thrive at some lucky point, but a majority of the population works to survive. The large increase in federal case law looks to have at least helped with increasing annual earnings and, as a result, livability. I do wonder about 2017 though and what happened that year…