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School of Business and Management

Research Seminar: Explaining spatial patterns of incapacity benefit claimant rolls

22 January 2020

Time: 1:00 - 2:00pm
Speaker: Dr Maria Plotnikova
Venue: Frances Bancroft Building, 4.04/4.08


The UK is among the countries with high share of population claiming disability benefits. Its share of claimants is reaching 6% of the working age population (Beatty and Fothergill, 2015). A sustained increase in the numbers of incapacity benefits recipients since the 1970s (McVicar, 2008) has been curtailed in recent years by austerity welfare policies. Share of working population on incapacity benefits exhibits a distinct spatial pattern with significantly lower share in the South East and pockets of higher claims in former mining areas. The dynamics and the spatial disparity of incapacity benefit claims has been linked to the pattern of structural changes in the UK economy, deindustrialization, decline in manufacturing with the claiming rates, initially higher for men, converging between men and women.  Fothergill (2001) warns of “hidden unemployment” from diversion into disability benefits highest in deindustrialized areas of the country noting that “claimant unemployment in the coalfields is lower than when the pits were working” (Fothergill, 2001, p. 242).

Regional and local job opportunities influence the decision to apply for incapacity benefits. While the unemployment rates and incapacity claimant rates are potentially endogenously determined, poverty rates are indicative of lack of employment opportunities and can therefore account for the variation in the disability claims rates across localities. The aim of the study is to ascertain the relationship between poverty rates and incapacity benefit claims at the level of UK local authorities. Spatial econometrics model is used because local authority claiming rates exhibit spatial dependence. The analysis uses poverty data produced by Horizon 2020 IMAJINE project. The findings of this study are important for understanding the impact of welfare reform on incapacity benefit rolls.

About Maria Plotnikova

Further information can be found here:

This seminar is hosted by Dr Caterina Gennaioli and the CGR research Centre.

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