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A healthy labour market? Place, people and sickness-related economic inactivity in Britain

Taulbut, Martin (2012) A healthy labour market? Place, people and sickness-related economic inactivity in Britain. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Over the last 30 years, the number of people not in work or looking for work because of long-term sickness or disability in Britain has grown substantially. Between 1981 and 2006, the working-age caseload swelled by 1.72m while those describing themselves as long-term sick or disabled in surveys increased by 1.35m. This thesis investigates this phenomenon of sickness-related economic inactivity (SREI) in Britain across three dimensions: space, people and time. A range of datasets and quantitative analysis are employed to describe and account for the geographical distribution and expansion over time of working-age SREI, across five economic clusters and 64 counties of Britain. Theoretical triangulation is used to organise the evidence on what factors are associated with SREI by place and time. Next, labour market accounts are assembled to describe the dynamics of labour market change (including SREI) between 1981 and 2001 in Prospering Britain, the Conurbations and Industrial Legacy counties and identify factors most strongly associated with withdrawal into SREI outside of Greater London and Rural & Coastal Britain. Two chapters then use a range of datasets, including the British Cohort Study, to describe and account for the geographic distribution and growth in young adult SREI in Britain. The main findings of the thesis are broadly supportive of the ‘hidden unemployment’ theory advanced by Beatty and Fothergill (1996). Unbalanced employment growth between local labour markets, coupled with persistent inequalities in health and skills and an unsympathetic unemployment benefits system, is likely to account in large part for withdrawal into SREI. The change can also be understood as one aspect of broader polarisation between places and families across Britain, which was only checked between the late 1990s and early 2000s. Policy implications that may prove beneficial to addressing this problem (and preventing its re-occurrence in a new guise) include: a commitment to full employment, through addressing deficits in skills and local labour market demand; renewed action on inequalities in public health; and benefits reforms that both keep the unemployed healthy and support sustained employment.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Postdoctoral
Keywords: long-term sickness or disability, Incapacity Benefits, geography, labour market accounts, young adults, time
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Supervisor's Name: Bailey, Mr. Nick and Turok, Professor Ivan
Date of Award: 2012
Depositing User: Mr Martin Taulbut
Unique ID: glathesis:2012-3381
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 May 2012
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 14:06
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/3381

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