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

Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Ben BarrEspen Dahl


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 well-developed welfare systems. 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. 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. 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 empl...Continue Reading


Nov 18, 2015·Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health·Ben BarrMargaret Whitehead
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May 1, 2019·Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health·Natasja Koitzsch JensenFinn Diderichsen
Jan 6, 2021·European Journal of Public Health·Jimmi MathisenIngelise Andersen

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