Contemporary pleas for an activating welfare state and social security system emphasize that getting benefit claimants back to work is more important than providing income compensation for social risks connected with unemployment or illness. The Dutch system of incapacity benefits, however, is far removed from this normative ideal of a proactive social security system. Resumption of work after a spell of incapacity benefit is the exception rather than the rule. This article examines possible ethnic differences in resumption of work following incapacity benefit. We use a unique register data file from Statistics Netherlands that contains information about all incapacity benefit claimants in the Netherlands in 1999. In the analysis we follow these benefit claimants for three years and examine what their labour market position was in 2002. We find that resumption of work after incapacity benefit is even more the exception for migrant workers with a Turkish or Moroccan ethnic background. Contrary to our assumption, this difference from native Dutch workers cannot be explained by unfavourable personal characteristics of Turkish or Moroccan benefit claimants - their personal characteristics (gender, age, low educational level) appear to be rather favourable for resumption of work. In the current literature, these differences in outcomes between ethnic groups are often attributed to certain 'ethnic-specific' or cultural factors. This article argues that we should be careful of explaining different outcomes between ethnic groups by (alleged) cultural phenomena. There are other explanations possible such as differences in work motivation, lack of 'transition facilities' in companies and differential treatment by employers or social security officials.

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doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9515.2008.00637.x, hdl.handle.net/1765/14259
Social Policy and Administration
Department of Sociology

Snel, E, & Linder, F. (2008). Back to work after incapacity benefit: Differences between ethnic minority and native dutch workers. Social Policy and Administration, 42(7), 768–788. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9515.2008.00637.x