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Welfare reform and mental health External seminar

A primary role of the welfare state is to provide a safety net against adverse shocks such as becoming unemployed. We estimate the effect of a major welfare reform in the UK on mental health for unemployed claimants. In 2013 Universal Credit replaced six existing benefits, creating a simplified system of applications and payments, whilst simultaneously applying somewhat draconian policy rules including a commitment to intensive job search, a change in benefit income and a 5 week wait to receive the first benefit payment. Exploiting a staggered roll-out across areas and time, we find the welfare reform was less able to mitigate negative mental health effects from entering unemployment by 28% of a standard deviation. We decompose this effect into the proportion coming from the individual policy rules, finding that a cut in income worsened - whilst increased job search intensity protected - against mental health problems from entering unemployment.

Presented by

Emma Tominey (University of York)

Date & time

12 May 2021, 12:30


Zoom link for online meeting: Please note that this event is open to everyone, but those who are not members of University of Essex need to register by simply sending their names to

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