To What Extent Have Relaxed Eligibility Requirements and Increased Generosity of Disability Benefits Acted as Disincentives for Employment? A Systematic Review of Evidence from Countries with Well-Developed Welfare Systems.

Ben Barr, Stephen Clayton, Margaret Whitehead, Karsten Thielen, Bo Burstrom, Lotta Nylen, Espen Dahl

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Abstract

Background Reductions in the eligibility requirements and generosity of disability benefits have been introduced in several Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries in recent years, on the assumption that this will increase work incentives for people with chronic illness and disabilities. This paper systematically reviews the evidence for this assumption in the context of welldeveloped welfare systems. Method Systematic review of all empirical studies from five OECD countries from 1970 to December 2009 investigating the effect of changes in eligibility requirements or level of disability benefits on employment of disabled people. Results Sixteen studies were identified. Only one of five studies found that relaxed eligibility was significantly associated with a decline in employment. The most robust study found no significant effect. On generosity, eight out of 11 studies reported that benefit levels had a significant negative association with employment. The most robust study demonstrated a small but significant negative association. Conclusion There was no firm evidence that changes in benefit eligibility requirements affected employment. While there was some evidence indicating that benefit level was negatively associated with employment, there was insufficient evidence of a high enough quality to determine the extent of that effect. Policy makers and researchers need to address the lack of a robust empirical basis for assessing the employment impact of these welfare reforms as well as potentially wider poverty impacts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Volume64
Issue number12
Early online date31 Dec 2010
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Dec 2010

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@article{e2add83111fa46dbadb505b621f9482e,
title = "To What Extent Have Relaxed Eligibility Requirements and Increased Generosity of Disability Benefits Acted as Disincentives for Employment? A Systematic Review of Evidence from Countries with Well-Developed Welfare Systems.",
abstract = "Background Reductions in the eligibility requirements and generosity of disability benefits have been introduced in several Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries in recent years, on the assumption that this will increase work incentives for people with chronic illness and disabilities. This paper systematically reviews the evidence for this assumption in the context of welldeveloped welfare systems. Method Systematic review of all empirical studies from five OECD countries from 1970 to December 2009 investigating the effect of changes in eligibility requirements or level of disability benefits on employment of disabled people. Results Sixteen studies were identified. Only one of five studies found that relaxed eligibility was significantly associated with a decline in employment. The most robust study found no significant effect. On generosity, eight out of 11 studies reported that benefit levels had a significant negative association with employment. The most robust study demonstrated a small but significant negative association. Conclusion There was no firm evidence that changes in benefit eligibility requirements affected employment. While there was some evidence indicating that benefit level was negatively associated with employment, there was insufficient evidence of a high enough quality to determine the extent of that effect. Policy makers and researchers need to address the lack of a robust empirical basis for assessing the employment impact of these welfare reforms as well as potentially wider poverty impacts.",
author = "Ben Barr and Stephen Clayton and Margaret Whitehead and Karsten Thielen and Bo Burstrom and Lotta Nylen and Espen Dahl",
year = "2010",
month = "12",
day = "31",
doi = "10.1136/jech.2010.111401",
language = "English",
volume = "64",
journal = "Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health",
issn = "0143-005X",
publisher = "BMJ Publishing Group",
number = "12",

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TY - JOUR

T1 - To What Extent Have Relaxed Eligibility Requirements and Increased Generosity of Disability Benefits Acted as Disincentives for Employment? A Systematic Review of Evidence from Countries with Well-Developed Welfare Systems.

AU - Barr, Ben

AU - Clayton, Stephen

AU - Whitehead, Margaret

AU - Thielen, Karsten

AU - Burstrom, Bo

AU - Nylen, Lotta

AU - Dahl, Espen

PY - 2010/12/31

Y1 - 2010/12/31

N2 - Background Reductions in the eligibility requirements and generosity of disability benefits have been introduced in several Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries in recent years, on the assumption that this will increase work incentives for people with chronic illness and disabilities. This paper systematically reviews the evidence for this assumption in the context of welldeveloped welfare systems. Method Systematic review of all empirical studies from five OECD countries from 1970 to December 2009 investigating the effect of changes in eligibility requirements or level of disability benefits on employment of disabled people. Results Sixteen studies were identified. Only one of five studies found that relaxed eligibility was significantly associated with a decline in employment. The most robust study found no significant effect. On generosity, eight out of 11 studies reported that benefit levels had a significant negative association with employment. The most robust study demonstrated a small but significant negative association. Conclusion There was no firm evidence that changes in benefit eligibility requirements affected employment. While there was some evidence indicating that benefit level was negatively associated with employment, there was insufficient evidence of a high enough quality to determine the extent of that effect. Policy makers and researchers need to address the lack of a robust empirical basis for assessing the employment impact of these welfare reforms as well as potentially wider poverty impacts.

AB - Background Reductions in the eligibility requirements and generosity of disability benefits have been introduced in several Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries in recent years, on the assumption that this will increase work incentives for people with chronic illness and disabilities. This paper systematically reviews the evidence for this assumption in the context of welldeveloped welfare systems. Method Systematic review of all empirical studies from five OECD countries from 1970 to December 2009 investigating the effect of changes in eligibility requirements or level of disability benefits on employment of disabled people. Results Sixteen studies were identified. Only one of five studies found that relaxed eligibility was significantly associated with a decline in employment. The most robust study found no significant effect. On generosity, eight out of 11 studies reported that benefit levels had a significant negative association with employment. The most robust study demonstrated a small but significant negative association. Conclusion There was no firm evidence that changes in benefit eligibility requirements affected employment. While there was some evidence indicating that benefit level was negatively associated with employment, there was insufficient evidence of a high enough quality to determine the extent of that effect. Policy makers and researchers need to address the lack of a robust empirical basis for assessing the employment impact of these welfare reforms as well as potentially wider poverty impacts.

U2 - 10.1136/jech.2010.111401

DO - 10.1136/jech.2010.111401

M3 - Review article

VL - 64

JO - Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health

JF - Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health

SN - 0143-005X

IS - 12

ER -