The application of human capital theory in vocational rehabilitation for individuals with mental illness

Ni Gao, Kenneth J. Gill, Lisa T. Schmidt, Carlos W. Pratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Human Capital Theory posits that investment in education and job training increase employability among the general labor force. This study examined the applicability of Human Capital Theory to an explanation of employment outcomes of individuals with psychiatric illness. The employment rates of participants with mental illness and participants with equivalent human capital but not disability were compared. The study also explored whether human capital variables predicted employability. The study found that participants with mental illness achieved similar re-employment rates within six-months of becoming unemployed when compared to their counterparts with no reported disability. Additionally, later onset of mental illness predicted higher employment rates. Severity of psychiatric symptoms was not predictive of employment rates. These findings suggest that human capital variables are correlated with employment outcomes among persons with mental illness. They also suggest that assisting mental health consumers in the pursuit of education and job training may improve their employability which can lead to financial independence and community integration. The findings also support the development and implementation of Supported Education to assist consumers to succeed in education and job training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-33
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Vocational Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Occupational Therapy
  • Rehabilitation


  • Employment for individuals with disabilities
  • Human capital theory
  • Mental illness


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