Exploring mental health disability gaps in the labour market: the UK experience during COVID-19

Mark Bryan, Andrew Bryce, Nigel Rice, Jennifer Roberts, Cristina Sechel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People with long-term mental health problems that affect their daily activities are a growing proportion of the UK working population and they have a particularly low employment rate. We analyse gaps in labour market outcomes between mental health disabled and non-disabled people during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. We also decompose the outcome gaps in order to explore the relative importance of different factors in explaining these gaps. Our results suggest that the employment effects of the pandemic for mental health disabled people may have been temporary. However, they were more likely to be away from work and/or working reduced hours than people without a disability. Workers with mental health disability were over-represented in part-time work and in caring, leisure and other service occupations, which were disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and the economic response. This is important new evidence on the contribution of segmentation and segregation in explaining the labour market position of people with mental health disability. The longer term effects of the pandemic were still not apparent at the end of our analysis period (2021:Q3), but the concentration of disabled workers into cyclically sensitive sectors and part-time work means that they will always be particularly vulnerable to economic downturns.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102253
JournalLabour Economics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 24 Aug 2022


  • Disability gaps, mental health, employment outcomes, COVID-19, decomposition analysis

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