Do punitive approaches to unemployment benefit recipients increase welfare exit and employment? A cross-area analysis of UK sanctioning reforms


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Globally, there is growing pressure on welfare systems to reduce spending. Starting in 2011, the UK introduced a series of reforms that expanded the use of punitive ‘sanctioning’, which terminates unemployment benefits if claimants fail to comply with one or more welfare conditionalities. We tested whether increasing sanctions under the new reforms reduce access to benefits without creating a concomitant rise in employment. Our findings indicate that the imposition of adverse sanctions is increasing exit from unemployment benefit in the UK. We were unable to detect an impact on employment recovery.


Published: Jan 2015

Keywords: Economic dependency Employment