Generations of benefits


In the Centre for Market and Public Organisation's Research in Public Policy Winter 2009 edition there is an article concerning research that was conducted which examined the link between fathers and sons and worklessness. Lindsey Macmillan analysed the rates from two data sets, one from 1958 and the other from 1970 (the former being the National Child Development Study and the latter was the British Cohort Study) and found the probability of a son being out of work for a year or more between leaving full time education and the age of 30.

For the first data set the probability of the son being unemployed for a year or more was 20% if their father had been out of work during the latter part of their sons childhood years. For the second set the rate increased to 25%. The results compare to a probability of only 14% for sons whose father was in work for the duration of their childhood. This increase could be used as an indicator as to who may need the most assistance in the future. Ms Macmillan also looked at data from the recession of the 1980s, and hard hit industries and found that unless the period of joblessness was long then the effect on the child was lessened.

The conclusion is that there is a 'correlation between workless experiences between fathers and sons in the UK.' How then do policy makers break this bond? Perhaps one way would be to make benefits generational within a family: if your parents were in receipt of benefits then you can't claim, you must work and you must purchase employment insurance while also paying back your parents debt via national insurance. Or benefits could actually be made to last only for a limited period. Our current system of benefits does little more than addict people to the political teat which of course is what politicians want: a supplicant mass that votes solely based on who awards them the most benefits. This bond is one that needs to be broken.