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Mental Health and Work: Norway

image of Mental Health and Work: Norway

Tackling mental ill-health of the working-age population is becoming a key issue for labour market and social policies in OECD countries. OECD governments increasingly recognise that policy has a major role to play in keeping people with mental ill-health in employment or bringing those outside of the labour market back to it, and in preventing mental illness. This report on Norway is the fourth in a series of reports looking at how the broader education, health, social and labour market policy challenges identified in Sick on the Job? Myths and Realities about Mental Health and Work (OECD, 2012) are being tackled in a number of OECD countries. It concludes that Norway faces a unique situation whereby a generous welfare system stimulates large-scale labour market exclusion and significant socio-economic inequalities of people with a mental disorder, and hindering better outcomes of its employment and vocational rehabilitation programmes.

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Assessment and recommendations

Norway combines a unique mix of a favourable economic and labour force situation and very high investments in education and health with a pervasive exclusion of people with health problems from the labour market. While the Norwegian system has generated a high and stable employment rate over the last decades, one-fifth of the population receives income supports due to health problems, and spending on disability and sickness benefits amounts to around 5% of GDP, by far the highest level in the OECD. The causes for this combination cannot be found either in a lack of vocational rehabilitation policies or a lack of elaborated support structures; both are well developed. Rather, the reasons lie in a political reluctance to revise a very generous social protection system; to implement effectively far-reaching changes introduced in the past decade; and to enforce new obligations rigorously.

English

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