• Led by the University of Sheffield, in partnership with the University of York and VU University, The Netherlands
  • Will estimate the causal impact of health status on labour market outcomes, such as employment, productivity, wages and absenteeism, to inform policy aimed at maximising participation in employment through reducing the disability employment gap and sickness absence
  • Will use econometric techniques to provide new UK evidence on the relationships between health status and work outcomes
  • The project will run for 30 months from April 2018.

This research project led by the University of Sheffield will aim to shed new light on the causal relationships between an individual’s health status and work outcomes, such as employment, productivity, wages and absenteeism.

Work is a key route to financial security and psycho-social wellbeing, and is generally good for people’s health. But there can be adverse effects stemming from long hours, stress and job insecurity.

Health is an important determinant of employment, affecting a person’s chances of gaining employment and adequate reward.

Deterioration in health is often the catalyst for people leaving the labour market, and people with poor health have a much lower employment rate than the rest of the population. This impacts not only on individuals and households but employer performance, productivity levels and economic growth. With long-term conditions increasing among the working age population, strategies are needed to maintain health status and participation.

This project will involve establishing the role of physical and mental health on determining outcomes such as employment, hours and wages. It will also explore the influence of poor health on employer outcomes, such as productivity and absenteeism.

The project team will primarily use data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study and the Quarterly Labour Force Survey to analyse the impact of factors such as age, gender, job/contract type, health status and household type on the relationship between an individual’s health and their participation in work.  

Econometric techniques (applying mathematical and statistical models to test economic hypotheses) will be used to estimate these complex relationships.

The research team will work with the government’s Work and Health Unit and other stakeholders to ensure the outputs of the project can inform policy being developed to maximise participation in work in the context of issues such as the ageing population, extended working lives, increased prevalence of chronic disease and the need to reduce the burden of social security provision.

Contact information

For more information about this project, please contact Jennifer Roberts, Professor of Economics, University of Sheffield.

Further reading

Quick guide

What makes us healthy?

March 2018
Quick guide

This guide explores how a person’s opportunity for health is influenced by factors outside the...

About this programme


The Social and Economic Value of Health


Our programme exploring the impact of health on the social and economic outcomes of individuals and...

You might also like...


Webinar: Health in early years – how can we improve opportunities to live a healthy life?


Join us for this webinar to hear fresh insights – and their implications for policy – from two...



The challenge of going green: creating a more sustainable Health Foundation


As a funder, investor and a workplace, environmental sustainability should be a 'green thread'...

Press release

Government must ‘seize the moment’ and take a 'whole government’ approach to improving health, says charity

Press release

Health Foundation statement following the release of the cross-government strategy.

Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101 copy

Get social

We believe we have a responsibility to act on climate change and environmental breakdown. We're taking steps to re… https://t.co/bEZx8NYPsS

Follow us on Twitter
Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101

Work with us

We look for talented and passionate individuals as everyone at the Health Foundation has an important role to play.

View current vacancies
Artboard 101 copy 2

The Q community

Q is an initiative connecting people with improvement expertise across the UK.

Find out more