Impact of the timing, type and severity of disability on the subjective well-being of individuals with disabilities

Soc Sci Med. 2006 Jul;63(2):525-39. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.01.016. Epub 2006 Mar 10.


Despite the existence of a large volume of literature on subjective well-being (SWB) of the general population, very few studies have focused on individuals with disabilities. The present study uses data on 24,036 Canadians with disabilities to investigate factors affecting their SWB. It found that SWB, measured here by level of happiness, decreases with severity of disability but is independent of the type of physical disability. Those born with a disability are likely to be happier as compared to those disabled later on in life. Per capita family income has no effect on happiness. However, unemployment decreases happiness. Happiness is found to be U shaped in age, bottoming out around 40 years of age. Some of these results vary when the sample is split according to the timing, type or severity of disability.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Canada
  • Disabled Persons / classification*
  • Disabled Persons / psychology*
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Female
  • Happiness*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Religion
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors