I have a strong interest in research and policy around sickness, impairment and disability. My main projects are around (i) disability and the benefits system, in particular how we assess incapacity and issues around conditionality/sanctions, (ii) disability and work, and (iii) how to reduce poverty among disabled people:
Disability and the benefits system: assessment and conditionality/sanctions
The way we assess incapacity (that is, assess if people should receive out-of-work benefits on the grounds of disability) is in chaos. This is partly due to practical issues, but also because of a lack of clarity about exactly what we are trying to assess - the current system does NOT assess incapacity as most people would understand it. In a four-year ESRC-funded project 2014-17 ('Rethinking Incapacity'; ESRC grant ES/K009583/1), I therefore explored what inacpacity might mean, how other countries assess it, and conducted new (qualitative and quantitative) public opinion work to see what disabled people, policy elites and the British public think. I also looked at conditionality and sanctions for disabled people (spurred partly by how this was governed by the assessment process).
In a 2018 Demos report called 'A Better WCA is Possible', I have put all of this evidence together, and put forward a series of recommendations for how a better WCA is possible. You can find the report on my publications page here.
The report is based on a number of my other publications, including:
- Assessing work disability for social security benefits: international models for the direct assessment of work capacity (Geiger, in press)
- Disability assessment: a better WCA is possible, an earlier short comment piece based on the report
- Benefits conditionality for disabled people: stylised facts from a review of international evidence and practice (Geiger 2017)
- Inequalities in the application of welfare sanctions in Britain (de Vries, Reeves & Geiger 2017)
- Introduction to the special issue on 'Disability and Conditional Social Security Benefits (Geiger 2017)
- I wrote a series of blog posts on the project's blog, Rethinking Incapacity - you can see the highlights here
- The original 2015 Demos report Rethinking the WCA
Disability and work
In recent years I have been looking at the factors that affect the disability employment gap (the gap between the employment rates of disabled and non-disabled people) - which triggered an interest in how you measure disability in the first place. On the publications page, you can find my publications on this, including:
- Success and failure in narrowing the disability employment gap: comparing levels and trends across Europe 2002-2014
- Disability prevalence and disability-related employment gaps in the UK 1998-2012: Different trends in different surveys?
- There's also some more general things around the nature of work, including Job Quality and the Self-employed: Is It Still Better to Work for Yourself?
This extends the earlier work in my PhD that was completed in December 2011, examined by Prof Francis Green and Prof Stephen Stansfeld, and supervised by Prof John Hills and Dr Tania Burchardt at the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) at the London School of Economics and Political Science. It's full title is Does rising job strain explain deteriorating fitness-for-work and rising incapacity claims?, and you can find it on the publications page here. This resulted in three publications: a paper in the Social Policy and Administration (Baumberg 2014), a paper in Journal of Social Policy (Baumberg 2015) and a book chapter (Baumberg 2011).
Disability and poverty
I was part of a team (led by Tom MacInnes at the New Policy Institute) that did a 2014 review of disability, impairment and poverty for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. You can find this on the publication page here, and it was covered by the Disability News Service with the headline, "Official figures ‘underestimate disability poverty by one million people".