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Journal Article

Fit-for-work – or work fit for disabled people? The role of changing job demands and control in incapacity claims


Publication date

Apr 2014


It remains a puzzle as to why incapacity claims rose in many OECD countries whenlife expectancy was increasing. While potentially due to hidden unemployment and policyfailure, this paper tests a further explanation: that work has become more difficult for disabledworkers. It focuses on the UK as a ‘most likely’ case, given evidence of intensification anddeclining control at work. To get a more objective measure of working conditions, the modelsuse average working conditions in particular occupations, and impute this into the BritishHousehold Panel Survey. The results show that people in low-control (but not high-demands)jobs are more likely to claim incapacity benefits in the following year, a result that is robust to anumber of sensitivity analyses. Deteriorating job control seems to be a part of the explanationfor rising incapacity, and strategies to cut the number of incapacity claimants should thereforeconsider ways to improve job control. Given the challenges in changing job characteristics,however, an equally important implication is that high levels of incapacity should not just beseen as a result of poor policies and a lack of jobs, but also as a result of the changing nature ofwork.

Published in

Journal of Social Policy

Volume and page numbers

43 , 289 -301





Disability, Labour Market, Public Policy, and Welfare Benefits



Albert Sloman Library Periodicals *restricted to Univ. Essex registered users*


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