To better understand why some experience reduction in the ability to work and earn income from employment, occupational background may be important. In this report, we describe the occupational background for new recipients of WAA and disability benefit.

For a total of 16.1 per cent of the new recipients of disability benefits in 2020, no occupation was registered from 2009 on. This is of course most prevalent among the youngest recipients, as they had less opportunity to establish themselves in the labour marked. Among new recipients of WAA in 2020, 15 per cent had no registered occupation during the same period. Background from occupations labelled as service and sales workers was most common for new recipients of both disability benefit and WAA, 28,0 and 29,8 per cent respectively. Many of these were personal care workers, but we also found quite a few sales workers. The second most common was background from occupations labelled as professionals, 12,5 and 12,9 per cent of the new recipients of disability benefit and WAA, respectively.

Difference between sexes is obvious, almost 4 out of 10 female recipients had been sales and service workers. Among new male recipients, sales and service was also the most prevalent, but males were still more evenly distributed among other occupational groups. We found considerable numbers from plant and machine operators and assembler, and craft and related trade workers.

Sales and service workers were significantly overrepresented when comparing the distribution of occupations among new recipients of disability benefit and WAA to the distribution among all wage earners. The share of new recipients coming from these occupations was approximately 13 percentage points higher than among all wage earners in 2020. Even though professionals were the second largest occupational group amount the new recipients, this occupational group was the most underrepresented.

These findings are based on last registered occupation in November during a ten-year period preceding the reception of one of the benefits. In the report, we also discuss other alternative methods for mapping occupational background for new recipients. One possibility discussed, is using registered occupation monthly. The data source for monthly information only covers a five-year period, and since quite a few of the recipients reduce their employment a long time before receiving disability benefit or WAA, this method results in a large share of no registered occupation.

We also discuss possible additional conditions for the registration of occupation. For all new recipients of disability benefit or WAA, a date for the reduction of work- or income ability is registered. Conditioning the registration of occupations on this date also increases the share with no prior occupation significantly. Equally, mapping occupations based on the last year with labour marked earnings above 2G (basic amount in the national insurance system) also leads to an increase in the number with no registered occupation. The report also indicates that the date for reduction of work- or income-ability and the reduction of labour marked earnings does not necessarily correspond.

Since alternative methods increase the share with no registered occupation, while the relative distribution of occupations is not altered compared to the prior mentioned mapping based purely on last registered occupation, we conclude that the best method for statistics is last registered occupation and industry over a ten-year period preceding the reception of disability benefit or WAA.