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Inhaltsbereich: Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung

Employment Policies for disabled people in a comparative view





Projektleiterin / Projektleiter


Januar 2018


März 2019


Across the OECD on average 14 per cent of the working-age population classify themselves as disabled. People with disabilities are often considered as particularly disadvantaged especially in the labour market. The majority of handicapped people are non-employed or “inactive” regarding their labour market status. Policy choices have played a major role in the rise in disability benefit rolls in many European welfare states but also in the US. In recent years a greater awareness arose that people with disabilities are able and willing to work and “disability” should be transformed into “ability”. In this context it has been increasingly recognized that protecting the economic security of people with disabilities might best be done by keeping them in the labour market. Moreover, the latent and manifest functions of participating in working life (Jahoda) enables disabled people to create and maintain social contacts in a wider social environment. This view is also reflected in the 2008 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The countries having ratified the Convention are committed to enable people with disabilities to work in an open, inclusive and accessible labour market that will ensure sustainable and secure livelihoods.
Germany has been an exception to the international trend as the rates of disability benefit recipients have been comparatively low over decades and across business cycles. A major reason for this diverging development is the long-standing principle of “rehabilitation instead of retirement” structuring disability policies in the German context for several decades now. The principle implies, on the one side, that labour market entry and retention of disabled person in employment is supported through employment programmes. On the other side, the definition of “work ability” is broad and gatekeeping to disability benefits is tight. In our descriptive and comparative paper we analyse the pathways into employment, unemployment or invalidity benefits of people with health problems in selected European countries. We analyse the factors explaining the divergent trend in Germany and discuss whether policymakers in other countries might benefit from German experiences to transform disability benefit schemes into activating labour market programmes.


Institutioneller Vergleich;


Analyse von Beschäftigung und Leistungsbezug von Menschen mit gesundheitlichen Einschränkungen (Behinderung) im Ländervergleich