Sickness and Disability Benefit Programmes: What is Driving Policy Convergence?

21 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2009


In this paper we explore the reasons for the apparent convergence in sickness and disability policies across the OECD, asking whether and to what extent policy convergence should be seen as a product of policy learning. We conclude that convergence is the result of policy imitation more than policy learning and that learning (from past mistakes) is more likely within countries than across borders. Given limited evidence on what really “works”, when it comes to designing policies that both provide adequate income security and still encourage labour-force participation, governments look abroad or to bodies like the OECD for possible models and ideas to underlie a reform. However, translating those ideas into workable policies requires great sensitivity to the institutional and political-economic context — especially the role of the social partners and the nature of policies in existence. When it comes to policy implementation, such contextual learning may be crucial.

Suggested Citation

Prinz, Christopher and Tompson, William, Sickness and Disability Benefit Programmes: What is Driving Policy Convergence?. International Social Security Review, Vol. 62, Issue 4, pp. 41-61, October/December 2009, Available at SSRN: or

Christopher Prinz (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

William Tompson

OECD ( email )

2 rue Andre Pascal
Paris Cedex 16, 75775

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