Working to Advance
Health Equity in Africa

Elements of the Financial and Economic Costs of Disability to Households in South Africa

Elements of the Financial and Economic Costs of Disability to Households in South Africa


This study is commissioned as part of South Africa’s efforts to “accelerate the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)” under the leadership of  the former South African Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, the Department of Social Development in collaboration with UNICEF. The study identifies the elements of economic vulnerability to households with people with disabilities in South Africa. It serves as an international benchmark and is potentially the first study in a low to middle income country (LMIC) that investigates opportunity costs and out-of-pocket costs combined for households with different types of disabilities. Selected results of the study are made available via the Department of Social Development (DSD).


The study seeks to describe elements of the economic vulnerability as related to health, education and employment. In particular the study seeks to:

  • Estimate opportunity costs of disability for households with disabled family members (both adults and children)
  • Estimate disability-related out-of-pocket costs (e.g. support, accommodation and assistive devices) currently borne by people with disabilities and their households
  • Identify the effect of a disability grant and extent of current tax rebates claimed (or reimbursed) for disability-related expenses
  • Analyse disability-related costs of households with people with disabilities (only education, health and employment) which are currently borne by households with disabled family members, but which should be borne by the state
  • Determine the types and range of services needed to accommodate persons and children with disabilities in South Africa in order to reduce economic vulnerability.

Methodological Approach:

The study uses a model of economic vulnerability and the human capital model as a theoretical base. The researchers develop a conceptual framework and model to investigate the economic vulnerability in regards to opportunity costs, disability-related out-of-pocket costs and social protection mechanisms.  It makes use of existing data sets, such as the South African census and General households’ survey, as well as the collection of primary data using Expert Group Discussion and an economic questionnaire.