Sickness and disability is a key economic policy concern for many OECD countries. Medical conditions, or problems labelled as such by societies and policy systems, are proving an increasing obstacle to raising labour force participation and keeping public expenditure under control. More and more people of working age rely on sickness and disability benefits as their main source of income, and the employment rates of those reporting disabling conditions are low. There is now an urgent need to address this "medicalisation" of labour market problems. In the current economic downturn, there is a risk that countries may be tempted to revert to using sickness and disability schemes to massage politically sensitive unemployment figures. The current context makes the reforms in Sweden especially important, but potentially more challenging to manage politically.
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Document Type: Review Article
Publication date: 01 August 2010