Disability, Health and Retirement in the United Kingdom

James Banks, Richard Blundell, Antoine Bozio, Carl Emmerson

NBER Working Paper No. 17049
Issued in May 2011
NBER Program(s):Economics of Aging, Health Economics, Public Economics

Over the last thirty years pathways to retirement have changed substantially in the UK. They have been dominated by spells of unemployment in the late 1970s, with then an increased importance of disability spells from the mid-1980s onwards. At the end of the period the direct route from work to retirement was increasingly more common. General economic conditions seem to have been important driving forces during the entire period. In contrast changes in health do not seem to provide convincing explanations for these trends: mortality has been falling over the period without any apparent link to the share of the population reporting ill health or disability or to the number claiming benefits. We also find evidence that recent reforms have had some impact. The halting of the previous growth in the rate of in-flow onto disability benefits in the mid-1990s coincided with the implementation of a major reform. Evidence from the pilots of the Pathways-to-Work programme in 2003-2005 suggests that those moving onto disability benefits moved off these benefits faster than they would otherwise have done as a direct result of the programme.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17049

Published: Disability, Health and Retirement in the United Kingdom, James Banks, Richard Blundell, Antoine Bozio, Carl Emmerson. in Social Security Programs and Retirement around the World: Historical Trends in Mortality and Health, Employment, and Disability Insurance Participation and Reforms, Wise. 2012

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