Work, Worklessness and Well-Being: A Disaggregated Analysis of the Impact of Recession in the UK

Friday, 3 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
CLM.3.05 (Clement House)
David Bayliss, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
In this paper the impact of the economic crisis on well-being in the UK is explored through the moderating effect of labour market statuses. The labour market is a central social system which together with corresponding social policies (e.g. employment, welfare, family) is influential in generating inequalities. A social structural view of the labour market suggests structures of inequality select people into different labour market statuses which in turn unequally distribute well-being. The economic crisis had widespread ramifications, providing an opportunity to explore how labour market statuses protect or expose people and groups to the negative well-being impacts of recession.

A disaggregated analysis aims to challenge the implied homogeneity of aggregate descriptions of population well-being. Eight years of data are used to analyse the UK working age population by comparing pre-recession to recession periods (2003-2011 in total), modelling men and women separately to capture different labour market interactions. Findings suggests that the psychological well-being of the economically inactive was most exposed to the recession, this holds true for both men and women despite different selection processes, and thus expands existing inequalities between labour market statuses. Furthermore, the relative advantage of employment compared to unemployment reduced during recession, narrowing well-being inequality between these two groups. The unequal impact of the recession provides insight into how social policy failed to protect some of the most vulnerable citizens from the inequalities of the labour market and provides an opportunity to reflect on ongoing social policies.