From Impairment to Incapacity : Educational Inequalities in Disabled People's Ability to Work

Baumberg Geiger, Ben (2015) From Impairment to Incapacity : Educational Inequalities in Disabled People's Ability to Work. Social Policy & Administration, 49 (2). pp. 182-198. ISSN 0144-5596. (doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12118) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/spol.12118

Abstract

Significant numbers of working-age people in high-income countries claim benefits due to incapacity. This is conventionally explained as the result of people rationally ‘choosing’ to claim benefits, or as ‘hidden unemployment’ due to a lack of jobs, with claim rates much higher among the low-qualified. However, neither account considers whether low-qualified people find it harder to deal with an impairment in the workplace, and are therefore genuinely more incapacitated. This study explores these issues using 32 in-depth interviews in England in 2009/10. It finds that there are considerable differences in people's ability to respond to impairments, with some – but only some – able to avoid incapacity through workplace flexibility, adjustments, or changing jobs. Better-educated people had more of these choices, partly because education is associated with job flexibility (which allows people to work around their impairments). Education also played a direct role; it is not just the case that less employable people found it harder to get work (‘hidden unemployment’), but that they found it harder to get suitable work, and were therefore genuinely incapacitated. It was therefore only some lower-qualified people who were left in a ‘Catch-22’ situation where they were not fit enough to do jobs they could get, and not employable enough to get jobs they were fit to do. Moreover, there were further inequalities among those with partial fitness-for-work limitations, with wealthier people having more choices around ‘struggling on’. The article concludes by drawing together the implications for research and policy.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: Disability; Incapacity; Working conditions; Education; Employability; Hidden unemployment
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Sociology
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Social Policy
Depositing User: Lisa Towers
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2015 09:32 UTC
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2017 15:52 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/49527 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Baumberg Geiger, Ben: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0341-3532
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