Is ill health driving economic inactivity, and what can be done about it? – with Sarah O’Connor and Professor James Banks

Episode 26,   Dec 10, 2022, 06:00 AM

We're all familiar with some of the challenges ahead in the UK: a fiscal squeeze, limp productivity, a labour shortage and an ageing population with increasing needs. 

As Andy Haldane put it in our recent REAL Challenge lecture, two routes to prosperity for the UK include increasing the number of workers and their productivity. But both of these routes now appear to be hampered by increasing ill health. 

Since the pandemic, 600,000 working people have become economically inactive – that’s the size of the city of Manchester taken out of the economy. Two-thirds are the over 50s who've left and aren't looking for work. And at the other end of life, younger people entering work are reporting markedly more ill health due to depression and anxiety, and more young men in particular are economically inactive.

Can we carry on like this if our economy is to recover? Or is it now time for us to get serious about these trends, and how?

To discuss, our chief executive Dr Jennifer Dixon is joined by: 
  • Sarah O’Connor, employment columnist at the Financial Times. 
  • James Banks, Professor of Economics at the University of Manchester and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Show notes