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Fit-for-Work – or Work Fit for Disabled People? 1 The Role of Changing Job Demands and Control in Incapacity Claims



It remains a puzzle as to why incapacity claims rose in many OECD countries when life expectancy was increasing. While potentially due to hidden unemployment and policy failure, this paper tests a further explanation: that work has become more difficult for disabled workers. It focuses on the UK as a ‘most likely’ case, given evidence of intensification and declining control at work. To get a more objective measure of working conditions, the models use average working conditions in particular occupations, and impute this into the British Household 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 a number of sensitivity analyses. Deteriorating job control seems to be a part of the explanation for rising incapacity, and strategies to cut the number of incapacity claimants should therefore consider 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 be seen as a result of poor policies and a lack of jobs, but also as a result of the changing nature of work.



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The title is adapted from a quote by Annie Irvine (2011: 766 – see Conclusions).



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Fit-for-Work – or Work Fit for Disabled People? 1 The Role of Changing Job Demands and Control in Incapacity Claims



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