The impacts of benefit sanctions: a scoping review of the quantitative research evidence

Pattaro, S. , Bailey, N. , Williams, E. , Gibson, M. , Wells, V. , Tranmer, M. and Dibben, C. (2022) The impacts of benefit sanctions: a scoping review of the quantitative research evidence. Journal of Social Policy, (doi: 10.1017/S0047279421001069) (Early Online Publication)

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Abstract

In recent decades, the use of conditionality backed by benefit sanctions for those claiming unemployment and related benefits has become widespread in the social security systems of high-income countries. Critics argue that sanctions may be ineffective in bringing people back to employment or indeed harmful in a range of ways. Existing reviews largely assess the labour market impacts of sanctions but our understanding of the wider impacts is more limited. We report results from a scoping review of the international quantitative research evidence on both labour market and wider impacts of benefit sanctions. Following systematic search and screening, we extract data for 94 studies reporting on 253 outcome measures. We provide a narrative summary, paying attention to the ability of the studies to support causal inference. Despite variation in the evidence base and study designs, we found that labour market studies, covering two thirds of our sample, consistently reported positive impacts for employment but negative impacts for job quality and stability in the longer term, along with increased transitions to non-employment or economic inactivity. Although largely relying on non-experimental designs, wider-outcome studies reported significant associations with increased material hardship and health problems. There was also some evidence that sanctions were associated with increased child maltreatment and poorer child well-being. Lastly, the review highlights the generally poor quality of the evidence base in this area, with few studies employing research methods designed to identify the causal impact of sanctions, especially in relation to wider impacts.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by UK Research and Innovation Economic and Social Research Council through two separate awards: Assessing the Impact of Benefit Sanctions on Health [grant number: ES/R005729/1]; Administrative Data Research Centres 2018 [grant number: ES/S007407/1].
Status:Early Online Publication
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gibson, Dr Marcia and Pattaro, Dr Serena and Williams, Dr Evan and Tranmer, Professor Mark and Bailey, Professor Nick and Wells, Ms Valerie
Authors: Pattaro, S., Bailey, N., Williams, E., Gibson, M., Wells, V., Tranmer, M., and Dibben, C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Journal Name:Journal of Social Policy
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:0047-2794
ISSN (Online):1469-7823
Published Online:14 February 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © The Author(s) 2022
First Published:First published in Journal of Social Policy 2022
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence
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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
314585CoA 300676Nick BaileyEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)ES/R005729/1S&PS - Urban Studies
300676Wider impact of benefit sanctions on healthNick BaileyEconomic and Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/R005729/1S&PS - Urban Studies
727671Informing Healthy Public PolicyPeter CraigMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/15HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
3048231Inequalities in healthAlastair LeylandMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_00022/2HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
727671Informing Healthy Public PolicyPeter CraigChief Scientist Office (CSO)SPHSU15HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
3048231Inequalities in healthAlastair LeylandChief Scientist Office (CSO)SPHSU17HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit