Disability and chronic disease
18 January 2022
As the EU’s population is ageing, the number of those living with disabilities or chronic health conditions is rising.Read more
As the EU’s population is ageing, the number of those living with disabilities or chronic health conditions is rising. For the many Europeans with a disability or chronic disease, there are many obstacles that prevent them from participating fully in everyday life, and access to the labour market remains one of the main challenges. Promoting the active inclusion and rights of persons with disabilities or chronic diseases in society is a priority for the EU agenda.
On 3 March 2021, the European Commission presented its Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021–2030. Building on the previous 10-year strategy, it aims to ensure that persons with disabilities can fully participate in society on an equal basis with others.Read more
On 3 March 2021, the European Commission presented its Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021–2030. Building on the previous 10-year strategy, it aims to ensure that persons with disabilities can fully participate in society on an equal basis with others. While there has been progress in past decades in access to healthcare, education, employment, recreation activities and participation in political life, a lot remains to be done to remove barriers. It sets out key initiatives under three main themes: EU rights; independent living and autonomy; non-discrimination and equal opportunities. As a flagship initiative in 2022, the Commission will present a package to improve labour market outcomes of persons with disabilities.
The disability strategy contributes to the Action plan for the European Pillar of Social Rights, presented by the Commission on 4 March 2021. The Pillar, formally proclaimed by the EU institutions in November 2017, reflects a joint commitment to providing a healthy, safe and well-adapted work environment for workers in the EU. It emphasises the right to equal treatment and opportunities regarding employment, social protection, education, and access to goods and services available to the public, regardless of disability.
The 10-year strategy provides the framework to support actions at EU and Member State level to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), adopted by the UN in 2006.
- European Commission: Union of Equality: Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030
- European Commission: The European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan
- European Commission: Persons with disabilities
- United Nations: Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
Drawing on data from the European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) and the European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS), alongside other research, Eurofound has been examining access to and quality of social services for people with disabilities and chronic diseases, specifically in relation to theRead more
Drawing on data from the European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) and the European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS), alongside other research, Eurofound has been examining access to and quality of social services for people with disabilities and chronic diseases, specifically in relation to the impact on employment opportunities and labour market integration. The research looks at the challenges facing this group and the policy approaches that could be explored.
New research examines policy developments in EU Member States aimed at supporting the inclusion of people with disabilities in the open labour market, with a particular focus on the three stages of entering into employment, staying in the job and returning to work after an absence. It explores the mechanisms and effectiveness of policy measures in place before the COVID-19 pandemic, and provides an updated analysis of early policy measures created in the wake of the pandemic.
- Publication: Disability and labour market integration: Policy trends and support in EU Member States
Other research has covered a range of topics:
- Long-term care workforce, mapping the working conditions and the nature of employment and role of collective bargaining in the sector, and highlighting the importance of the workforce in improving the quality of life and employment prospects of older people and people with disabilities
- Access to care services such as early childhood education and care, healthcare and long-term care, covers the issue of access to these services for people with disabilities and also focuses on early childhood education and care for children with disabilities and special educational needs
- How to respond to chronic health problems in the workplace, examining the prevalence of chronic disease, the impact on ability to work, the extent that workplaces are making adjustments for workers and the effect of that on job quality and sustainability of work
- Social and employment situation of people with disabilities, looking at changes over time in employment, education and training, participation in society, social protection and healthcare, all priority areas of the European Disability Strategy
- Employment opportunities for economically inactive people, who find it difficult to enter or re-enter the labour market and the reasons why
- Employment opportunities for people with chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and mental health problems
- Active inclusion of young people with disabilities or health problems, a group facing particular difficulties in accessing employment, with an emphasis on assessing the implementation of active inclusion policy at national level.
Key outputs over the years
- Despite recent progress, labour market participation remains a challenge for people with disabilities – a fact compounded by COVID-19. A variety of obstacles – ranging from disability-related stereotypes to a lack of a strategic vision in governance – make employment in the open labour market more difficult for people with disabilities.
- Responses to protect people with disabilities against job loss during the pandemic have often been limited. To ensure that they are not left behind in the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, appropriate financial resources are needed to enable disability-inclusive solutions.
- Labour market support measures must take account of disability and tailor policy responses to support the inclusion of people with disabilities in employment. All actors – governments, employers and NGOs representing the voices of people with disabilities – play an important role in the provision of support.
- More high-quality data, broken down by disability type and comparable across the EU, are necessary to ensure the effective integration of people with disabilities into the labour market. Measures to support people with disabilities must also be systematically evaluated and the results fed back into policymaking.
- While supporting and promoting the labour market participation of people with disabilities is crucial, adequate and inclusive social protection mechanisms also need to be put in place to ensure support is available for all people with disabilities, irrespective of their employment status.
Publications & dataTop
The sections below provide access to a range of publications, data and ongoing work on this topic.
- Publications (49)
- Ongoing work (1)
Eurofound publications come in a variety of formats, including reports, policy briefs, blogs, articles and presentations.
A selection of related data on this topic are linked below.
- Data: Educational attainment of people with and without disabilities
- Data: Employment differences between people with and without disabilities
- Data: Use of medical services and difficulties paying medical expenses
- Data: Life satisfaction among people with and without disabilities
- Data: European Quality of Life Survey 2016 - Data visualisation
Research continues in this topic on a variety of themes, which are outlined below with links to forthcoming titles.