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Mental health, work incapacity and State transfers: an analysis of the British Household Panel Survey

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  • Whittaker, W
  • Sutton, M

Abstract

The UK has experienced substantial increases in the number of individuals claiming work incapacity benefit (IB) and the proportion of people claiming IB for mental health reasons. Following high-profile reports claiming that intervention would cost the State nothing, the Government has increased the availability of psychological therapies. The cost-neutrality claim relied on two statistics: the proportion of IB claimants diagnosed with mental and behavioural disorders; and estimates of the costs to the State of periods on IB. These are cross-sectional associations. We subject these two associations to more rigorous longitudinal analysis using nationally representative data from seventeen waves (1991-2007) of the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS). We model the effect of depression on (a) State transfers and (b) the probability of being on IB whilst controlling for covariates and unobservable heterogeneity. Our results reveal that cross-sectional associations with depression are substantially cnfounded. The estimated effects of becoming depressed on State transfers reduce by 83% and 88%, and on the probability of claiming IB drop to just 0.4 and 0.7 percentage points, for males and females respectively. We conclude that the stated benefits of reducing depression for the State and for labour market participation have been substantially over-estimated.

Suggested Citation

  • Whittaker, W & Sutton, M, 2010. "Mental health, work incapacity and State transfers: an analysis of the British Household Panel Survey," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 10/21, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
  • Handle: RePEc:yor:hectdg:10/21
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    File URL: https://www.york.ac.uk/media/economics/documents/herc/wp/10_21.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Paul Contoyannis & Andrew M. Jones & Nigel Rice, 2004. "Simulation-based inference in dynamic panel probit models: An application to health," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 29(1), pages 49-77, January.
    2. Katharina Hauck & Nigel Rice, 2004. "A longitudinal analysis of mental health mobility in Britain," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(10), pages 981-1001.
    3. Faggio, Giulia & Nickell, Stephen, 2005. "Inactivity among prime age men in the UK," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19912, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Duncan McVicar, 2006. "Why do disability benefit rolls vary between regions? A review of the evidence from the USA and the UK," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(5), pages 519-533.
    5. Disney, Richard & Webb, Steven, 1991. "Why Are There So Many Long Term Sick in Britain?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(405), pages 252-262, March.
    6. Stephen Fothergill, 2001. "The True Scale of the Regional Problem in the UK," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(3), pages 241-246.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mariya Melnychuk, 2012. "Mental health and economic conditions: how do economic fluctuations influence mental problems?," Working Papers. Serie AD 2012-08, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Work incapacity; Mental health; Dynamic modelling; Unobserved heterogeneity;

    JEL classification:

    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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