Although disability has been on the psychological agenda for some time, there is limited empirical evidence on the life satisfaction of youth with a disability, especially the effect of discrimination and factors that might mitigate it. We address this critical gap by examining the complex social experiences of youth with a disability and the culminating effect on life satisfaction. We ask three questions: (1) Is having a disability associated with lower life satisfaction? (2) Do youth with a disability experience discrimination and, if so, how does this affect life satisfaction? (3) Can a sense of belonging mitigate the negative effect of discrimination? We address these questions using microdata from the Canadian Community Health Survey, which is nationally representative. Our sample consists of 11,997 adolescents, of whom 2193 have a disability. We find that life satisfaction is lower among youth with a disability. Moreover, many experience disability-related discrimination, which has a negative effect on life satisfaction. However, this is mitigated by a sense of belonging to the community. Specifically, youth with a disability do not report lower life satisfaction when high belonging is present, even if they experience discrimination. This is true for boys and girls. We conclude that belonging, even if it is not disability-related, is protective of well-being. This has important implications for policy whereby organizations that cultivate a sense of belonging may alleviate the harm sustained by youth who experience discrimination as a result of their disability.
Daley, A., Phipps, S., & Branscombe, N. R. (2018). The social complexities of disability: Discrimination, belonging and life satisfaction among Canadian youth. SSM - Population Health, 5, 55-63. doi:10.1016/j.ssmph.2018.05.003