The Influence of Social Capital on Starting Wage for People With and Without Disabilities

Brian N. Phillips, Lindon J. Robison, John F. Kosciulek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Disability is associated with low employment rates and earnings. The gap in earnings between people with and without disabilities continues among those who exit vocational rehabilitation (VR) services with an employment outcome. Hypothetical hiring scenarios were presented to undergraduate business students, and the potential influence of social capital on starting wage was examined for both persons with and without disabilities. Results suggest that both direct and indirect social capital have a positive influence on starting wage. Scenarios depicting high levels of social capital resulted in an increase in hourly wage of over US$1,500.00 more per year for a direct relationship and over US$800.00 more per year for an indirect relationship. Social capital, along with human capital, is an important factor in starting wage decisions. A comparison between human and social capital suggests important differences in (a) where the capital is located, (b) potential for indirect use, and (c) resources for investment. Implications for provision of VR services include increased use of a customized, strength-based approach for development and use of social capital for both consumers and counselors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-45
Number of pages9
JournalRehabilitation Counseling Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • disability
  • job placement
  • social capital
  • vocational rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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