Approaches to measure disability related costs for inclusive social protection


In the last few years there has been a greater understanding of the impact of disability related costs on the standard of living and participation of persons with disabilities and their families across the life cycle.

Those costs include the direct costs related to disability-specific expenditures (assistive technology, care and support needs, sign language interpretation…) and additional mainstream expenditures (higher spending on health care, transport, housing…) as well as indirect costs related to the impact of barriers to access to education and employment or income generation but also opportunity costs for family members, especially women and girls, losing out on education and employment as they provide care and support.

Understanding and addressing disability-related costs is pivotal to the shift of paradigm in how social protection programs and systems are designed to optimize support for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in line with UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It helps to move away from a sole focus on compensating the “loss of earning capacity” or incapacity to work by considering how different social protection instruments can contribute to addressing disability-related costs that undermine sustainable escape from poverty as well as participation and inclusion.    

In recent years, disability-related costs studies have been carried out in several countries and several publications explain the different methods to measure disability-related costs. This has been tackled in previous webinars on (here).

Each of the methods used in the last few years comes with some advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the context of the country, where there is an interest in understanding disability-related costs and the issues of interest, one approach might be better suited than the other, and in some cases a combination of the different approaches might be required.

It is also important to consider studies on costs of disabilities within a broader set of steps in the design and costing of optimized support package for children and adults with disabilities.

UNICEF and the World Bank with the support of the teams from the Centre for Inclusive Policy and the International Centre for Evidence in Disability London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have been working on the development of a joint methodological guidance to support countries’ efforts.

The webinar provided an update on the current state of play on research on disability-related costs but focused on the added value of different approaches for different policy- and program design purposes and reviewed the steps required after studies are completed to adequately inform policies and programs.



Daniel Mont, CEO, Centre for Inclusive Policy

Morgon Banks, Associate Professor, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Ludovico Carraro, Independent Consultant

Maia Bagrationi, Consultant, Mac Georgia

Andrey Tretyak, Senior social protection policy specialist, World Bank

Moderator:  Alexandre Cote, Social policy specialist, UNICEF

This was the first webinar of the series “Towards inclusive social protection systems: participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities”. Following the adoption of the joint statement “Towards inclusive social protection systems supporting the full and effective participation of persons with disabilities” in 2019, a broad coalition of development partners, experts OPDs took part in a process facilitated by UNICEF, ILO and IDA with the support of the UNPRPD, the government of Norway and the European Commission to develop technical resources. The series is implemented jointly with these partners and will discuss some of the core modules of the guidance note.