Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2020-03-01

Identity, Employment, and Inequality: An Examination of Immigrants with Disabilities

Document type Thesis
Author Sayin, Kutadgu Firat
Degree Ph.D., Business Administration
Publisher McMaster University; Hamilton, Ont.
Date 2019


Most extant studies on the relationship between workforce diversity and employment inequalities focus on the impact of a single disadvantaged identity on a single employment outcome such as pay or promotion at the organizational level. Thus, the relation between workers’ multiple identities and different dimensions of employment inequalities within the broader social context remains unclear. The goal of this thesis is to start filling this gap. I start with developing a multilevel model of employment inequalities for workers with multiple identities by integrating the social identity theory, double jeopardy hypothesis, intergroup contact theory, and theory of minority group threat. I test this model with two empirical studies using Statistics Canada’s nationally representative Canadian Survey on Disability (2012) linked with the National Household Survey (2011). Labour force participation, employment, and employment income are the dependent variables of this thesis. I examine the intersection of immigrant and disability identity dimensions by focusing on immigrants with disabilities (IwD) as compared to immigrants with no disabilities, Canadian-born with disabilities, and Canadian-born with no disabilities. Study 1 demonstrates that while immigrant and disability identities are independently negatively associated with employment and employment income, having both identities simultaneously has a positive effect on employment and employment income. Furthermore, with the increase of the residential area diversity (RAD), which is determined by the number of immigrants and people with disabilities in a community, IwD’s likelihood of employment increases but employment income decreases. Study 2 shows that the proportion of immigrants in a residential area (RA) is negatively associated with the likelihood of being in the labour force for IwD. Furthermore, perceived work discrimination is negatively associated with labour force participation for IwD. Moreover, perceived work discrimination mediates the relationship between the proportion of immigrants in an RA and labour force participation for IwD. This thesis contributes to theory by (i) developing a multi-level theoretical framework that demonstrate the complex relationship between individuals with multiple identities, organizations, and society, (ii) extending the intergroup contact theory and the theory of minority threat using empirical evidence from individuals with multiple identities rather than focusing on a single identity, (iii) examining multiple employment outcomes at once and demonstrating how employment outcomes might differ based on intersecting identities, and (iv) demonstrating the impact of societal context by incorporating RAD into analysis and showing how the employment outcomes of individuals with multiple identities differ by where they reside. I discuss practical implications of the findings for workers, employers, policymakers, and society.