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The Rise in Inactivity Among Adult Men

Giulia Faggio () and Stephen Nickell ()

Chapter 3 in The Labour Market Under New Labour, 2003, pp 40-52 from Palgrave Macmillan

Abstract: Abstract Inactivity rates among working age men over 25 have risen by a multiple of around four since the mid-1970s. Among prime-age men (aged 25–54), inactivity rates have risen even more (over five times) over the same period. By contrast, unemployment rates are roughly the same now as they were in the mid-1970s and inactivity rates among women have fallen significantly. Rises in the inactivity rate of prime-age men in the bottom skill quartile make up the majority of the increase in overall prime-age male inactivity since the mid-1970s. As a consequence, between 50 and 60 per cent of inactive prime-age men are now in the bottom skill quartile. Around 70 per cent of inactive prime-age men report themselves as having a limiting health problem. For older men, this number is around 50 per cent. In the 1970s, a mere 10 per cent of prime-age men reporting a limiting health problem were inactive. By the late 1990s, the proportion had risen to around 40 per cent. Since the 1970s, there has been a significant rise in the overall proportion of men reporting a limiting health problem. Much of the rise in prime-age male inactivity can be accounted for by these two facts. By contrast, among older men, around half the rise in inactivity since the 1970s is accounted for by increasing inactivity among those without any reported limiting illness. Many of these would be occupational pensioners. The level of inactivity among prime-age men is particularly concentrated among those who are both low skilled and suffering from a chronic health problem or disability. Over time as inactivity rose, this concentration got much worse. Important factors underlying these changes are the significant weakening of the low skill labour market and the operation of the invalidity benefit system.

Keywords: Early Retirement; Unskilled Worker; Labour Force Survey; Occupational Pensioner; Skill Intensity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2003
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DOI: 10.1057/9780230598454_4

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