Poverty and Social Exclusion in Europe

Poverty and Social Exclusion in Europe

Matt Barnes, Christopher Heady, Sue Middleton, Jane Millar, Fotis Papadopoulos, Graham Room and Panos Tsakloglou

There are estimated to be almost 60 million people living in poverty throughout the European Union. This bleak statistic underlines the value of this important book which explores the nature and extent of poverty and social exclusion in six European countries, namely: Austria, Germany, Greece, Norway, Portugal and the UK. The book focuses on four ‘life course’ groups who might be considered particularly at risk: young adults, lone parents, the sick and disabled, and the retired.

Chapter 5: Sickness and Disability

Christopher Heady

Subjects: social policy and sociology, comparative social policy


Christopher Heady INTRODUCTION Comparative analysis has paid very little attention to the circumstances of those who suffer from sickness or disability. Yet research in individual countries (for example, Amera, 1996, and Berthoud et al., 1993) shows that the onset of such conditions causes major changes in circumstances, not only for the affected individual but also for the household in which s/he lives. It is therefore appropriate to include this group in the analysis of those who run a particularly high risk of social exclusion. This chapter starts with a discussion of policy towards the sick and disabled in the six study countries. It then presents data on the incidence of sickness and disability in each country and the characteristics of the sick and disabled. This sets the scene for an analysis of the links between sickness and disability on the one hand and poverty and deprivation on the other. Finally, a concluding section highlights the main findings. POLICY One of the main challenges for the comparative analyst is the extent to which definitions and classifications of sickness and disability vary between countries. In this section the definitions adopted by the countries in this study are described. The main policy provisions for this group are outlined and, finally, the policy debates in each country are considered. Definitions All countries have an official definition of sickness and disability that is linked to a person’s ability to participate in the labour market and to eligibility...

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