School of Economics and Finance

No. 657: Disability Benefits: A Substitute for Income Support for Single Mothers with No Qualifications in the UK

Zeenat Soobedar , Queen Mary, University of London

December 1, 2009

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This paper examines the impact of the age-eligibility rule establishing automatic withdrawal of Income Support for single mothers whose youngest child turns 16 on the disability benefits welfare participation decision of single mothers with no qualifications in the UK. Using the age discontinuity in Income Support program assignment, the study reveals that these single mothers are 4.2 percentage points more likely to claim health benefits as their youngest child turns 16, consistent with a theoretical model of benefits choice. More than a quarter of single mothers who were initially on Income Support apply for sickness and disability benefits, out of which 70% claim non-contributory health benefits.

J.E.L classification codes: J12, I38, C21

Keywords:Single mothers, Disability benefits, Regression discontinuity