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Sickness, Disability and Work: Breaking the Barriers (Vol. 3)

Denmark, Finland, Ireland and the Netherlands

image of Sickness, Disability and Work: Breaking the Barriers (Vol. 3)
Too many workers leave the labour market permanently due to health problems, and yet too many people with a disabling condition are denied the opportunity to work. This third report in the OECD series Sickness, Disability and Work explores the possible factors behind this paradox. It looks specifically at the cases of Denmark, Finland, Ireland and the Netherlands, and highlights the roles of institutions and policies. A range of reform recommendations is put forward to deal with specific challenges facing the four countries.

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Evaluating Recent and Ongoing Reforms

The extent of policy change over the past 15 years differs widely across the four countries. Ireland is among those OECD countries which have seen the least change, largely because problems in this area have only become apparent relatively recently. The Netherlands used to stand out from other OECD countries because of the ease with which it gave out disability benefits; these days, it stands out as the most radical reformer in the OECD. Finland and Denmark also belong to the group of countries which have undertaken major reforms. The largest difference in policy is found in the extent to which employers are seen as part of the solution. In the Netherlands, employer responsibilities and incentives were increased dramatically in the past decade whereas the Danish flexicurity policy aimed to steer change through better incentives for public authorities, especially municipalities. Finnish reforms have sought a balanced approach, with Irish reform plans looking set to be striving for a strong public role. 

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