Although industrialized nations have long provided public protection to working-age individuals with disabilities, the form has changed over time. The impetus for change has been multifaceted: rapid growth in program costs; greater awareness that people with impairments are able and willing to work; and increased recognition that protecting the economic security of people with disabilities might best be done by keeping them in the labor market. We describe the evolution of disability programs in four countries: Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States. We show how growth in the receipt of publicly provided disability benefits has fluctuated over time and discuss how policy choices played a role. Based on our descriptive comparative analysis we summarize shared experiences that have the potential to benefit policymakers in all countries.
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