Purpose – This article argues that some of the most profound costs of unemployment are social in nature, rather than solely economic. Consequently, the aim of the paper is to argue that the design and evaluation of active labour market policies (ALMPs) should incorporate a better and more sophisticated understanding of how such interventions affect the health, well-being and social exclusion of the unemployed, as opposed to more typically economic outcomes like re-employment and wage levels. Design/methodology/approach – To achieve this, a range of theoretical and empirical evidence is reviewed that shows how unemployment is consistently associated with a range of health and social problems. Evidence is also presented that demonstrates the capacity that ALMPs have to intervene and mediate such problems. Findings – The evidence presented demonstrates that not only is unemployment associated with a range of health and social problems but it appears to have a causal function. Further, the evidence also demonstrates how the causal pathway that leads from unemployment to poor health, low well-being and social exclusion is often psychosocial in nature. It is argued that such findings reinforce the potential that activation policies have to improve the qualitative, psychosocial environment of unemployment for the better. Originality/value – This article argues that politicians, policy-makers and academics should take a more holistic approach vis-a` -vis ALMPs, beyond the more typical economic-centric way in which such programmes are often conceptualised. Further, it offers a framework for future research; suggesting that further work should focus on analysing the impacts of qualitatively different types of active interventions. To achieve this, a framework – based upon Bonoli’s typology – is outlined.
|Journal||International Journal of Sociology & Social Policy|
|Publication status||Published - 2013|