Oxford Economic Papers, 70(3), pp 635-657

Using longitudinal data from the Household, Income, and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey (2001–2013), we examine the relationship between the dynamics of work-limiting disability, employment, and life satisfaction. By employing two alternative classifications of the dynamic trajectories of disability, we are able to explicitly consider the influence of disability exit in addition to examining onset by chronicity and severity. After controlling for unobserved individual heterogeneity, we find pronounced declines in the probability of employment and life satisfaction at disability onset. Further, while individuals are found to recover rapidly and completely from a one-period disability, there is little evidence of recovery even after 10 years for those whose disability is chronic, defined as evident for three or more years post-onset, and severe.