British and American unemployment benefit systems: A comparative study.

  • Dean E. Hutter

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This research was conducted over a two and one-half year period to study and compare four aspects of the British and American unemployment benefits systems: legislative philosophies, administrative procedures, fraud control, and employer-claimant attitudes. As part of the larger field of industrial relations, this study focuses primarily on British and American employers and claimants. In an adjunctive role are governments of both nations as legislators of the governance and procedural structure under which each system operates. The legislative philosophy of "liberalisation" is pre-eminent among the others in both countries, as reflected by steady increases in benefit amounts and extension of coverage to more segments of the workforce. From comparisons made in seven key procedural areas, the British centralised system of authority and decision-making at the national level emerged as more efficient and equitable in application than is possible under the decentralised American federal-state system. Comparison of fraud investigation methods, incidence and control measures underscores again the advantages which accrue to Britain through centralised administration. British and American employers reflect similar attitudes in their questionnaire responses, differing sharply only in two areas; American employers are evenly split on whether a benefit system is needed, while British employers are almost unanimous in supporting that need; British employers are divided on whether unions pressure employers to support the work-shy, while American employers agree overwhelmingly that this is so. British and American claimants reflect similar attitudes, varying only in the degree of congruence. Consistent with the purpose of this study - to extend the boundaries of knowledge and propose solutions to common problems - recommendations are made to improve both systems. Principally among these: "experience rating" is recommended for the British system as an incentive-reward to employers who succeed in stabilising their workforce; nationalised benefits procedures and shared employer-employee contributions are recommended for the American system.
Date of Award1978
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath

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