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Academic Papers and Articles on the Human Rights Impacts of Austerity

This page contains academic papers and articles which

  • discuss issues related to human rights, austerity and budgetary processes and/or
  • consider impact of austerity measures and welfare reform on vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.

If you have any suggestions for further academic papers and articles please email James Harrison.

Human Rights, Austerity and Budgetary Processes

Authors Title Resource Description
Butterworth,Jonathan and
‘Equality, Human Rights and the Public Service Spending Cuts: Do UK Welfare Cuts Violate the Equal Right to Social Security?’ (2013) 11 The Equal Rights Review 26 Article looking at whether the recent welfare cuts that have taken place within the UK violate the obligation under the ICESCR to guarantee the right to social security for all citizens without discrimination.
Callan,Tim; Leventi,Chrysa; Levy,Horacio;Matsaganis,Manos; Paulus,Alari and Sutherland,Holly ‘The Distributional Effects of Austerity Measures: A Comparison of Six EU Countries' (2011)
EUROMOD Working Paper Series, Paper
No EM6/11
Working paper exploring the effects of austerity policies in six EU countries on income distribution.
Dutschke,Mira; Aiofe,Nolan; O'Connell,Rory; Harvey,Colin and Rooney,Eoin 'Budgeting for Economic and Social Rights: A Human Rights Framework' (2010) Queen's University Belfast, University of Nottingham, University of Ulster Details the various analytical frameworks that have been employed by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and others to categorise economic and social rights, linking these to budgetary decisions and processes.
Elson,Diane 'The Reduction of the UK Budget Deficit: A Human Rights Perspective' (2011) 26(2) International Review of Applied Economics 177 Looks at the strategy the UK coalition Government has been using to reduce the budget deficit, focusing on whether economic and social rights are being upheld. Examines the various implications that spending cuts are having such as on child poverty and gender equality, to suggest that there is evidence that the UK Government in its austerity measures is not complying with international human rights obligations.
Harrison,James and Stevenson,Mary-Ann 'Assessing the Impact of Public Spending Cuts: Taking Human Rights and Equality Seriously' in Aoife Nolan, Rory O'Connell, and Colin Harvey (eds) Human Rights and Public Finance Budgets and the Promotion of Economic and Social Rights (1st edn,Hart, 2011) An essay on the uses of equality and human rights impact assessments and why they should be conducted.
Johnstone,Rachael Lorna and Ámundadóttir,Aðalheiður 'Human rights in crisis: securing the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in economic downturns' (2013) 1(1) Int J of Human Rights and Constitutional Studies 6
Looks at how and if nations are still continuing to fulfill their obligations under ICESCR despite the economic downturn.
Katrougalos,George 'The Greek Austerity Measures: Violations of Socio-Economic Rights' (2013) Demokritus University Shows as an example how austerity measures in Greece have been tackled by the European Committee of Social Rights as violating the European Social Charter. Summarises the possible breaches of the European Social Charter being committed by the Greeks, in light of two non-binding decisions by its supervisory body condemning Greece for violation of the Charter because of its austerity legislation enacted in 2010.
Krajewski,Markus 'Human Rights and Austerity Programmes' (2013) University of Erlangen-Nuremberg Looks at whether International human rights obligations impose limits to what Governments can do when implementing their austerity programmes during a time of economic crisis.
Nolan,Aoife and Dutschke,Mira ‘Article 2(1) ICESCR and States Parties’ Obligations: Whither the Budget?’ (2010) 3 EHRLR 280 Suggests that UK austerity measures are not giving enough consideration to fulfilling the obligations in Article 2(1) of ICESCR, which sets out all State parties' key obligations with regards to implementation of rights within the Covenant.
Nolan,Aoife 'Is the Government's Austerity Programme Breaking Human Rights Law?' (2011) Open Democracy News article suggesting that the UK might be breaching its obligations under the ICESCR and arguing that the UK has not fully considered its austerity measures in relation to other international agreements with which it also has to comply with.
O'Connell,Rory ‘Austerity and the ECHR’ (2012) University of Ulster, Transitional Justice Institute Paper examining how the adoption of recent austerity measures might conflict with human rights obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Pearce,Jamie R 'Commentary: Financial crisis, austerity policies and geographical inequalities in health’ (2013) 45(9) Environ Plann A 2030 Paper exploring the implications of austerity with regards to health inequalities, with an international scope.
Portero,Israel Biel 'Are there Rights in a Time of Crisis?' (2012)
27(4) Disabil Soc 581
Looks at how international agreements could be used to challenge spending cuts which are having an effect on primarily disabled people.
Salomon,Margot E ‘Of Austerity, Human Rights and International
Institutions’ (2015) LSE Law, Society and
Economy Working Papers 2/2015
Working paper looking at how the austerity measures placed on Greece during the Eurozone economic crisis have led to human rights violations which have been left unaccounted for due to institutional accountability gaps.
Sandhu,Kulwinder and
‘Layers of inequality—a human rights and equality impact assessment of the public spending cuts on black asian and minority ethnic women in Coventry’ (2015) 109 Feminist Rev 169 Article arguing that black and ethnic minority women have been disproportionately affected by the public spending cuts, and that public authorities have failed to properly consider and assess this disproportionate impact.
Stephenson,Mary-Ann ‘Unravelling equality: The combined impact of spending cuts on women’ (2012) 27(8) Local Econ 859 Article summarising the findings of the report ‘Unravelling Equality: An Equality and Human Rights Impact Assessment of the Spending Cuts on Women in Coventry’ highlighting the disproportionate damaging effect of the public spending cuts on vulnerable women’s human rights.
Stephenson,Mary-Ann and
‘Unravelling Equality: The Impact of the United Kingdom’s Spending Cuts on Women’ (2011) 82(4) Polit Q 645 Article arguing that the report, ‘Unravelling Equality: A Human Rights and Equality Impact Assessment of the Spending Cuts on Women in Coventry’ should be used as a blueprint for similar analysis into the impact of the public spending cuts on women in other areas of the United Kingdom.

The Impact of Austerity Measures and Welfare Reform on Vulnerable and Disadvantaged Groups

Authors Title Resource Description
Bambra, Clare and Garthwaite, Kayleigh 'Austerity, welfare reform and the English health divide' (2015) 47(3) AREA 341 Paper examining the actual and potential effects of welfare reform and austerity on spatial health inequalities within England.
Beatty,Christina and Fothergill,Steve ‘The Local and Regional Impact of the UK's Welfare Reforms’ (2014) 7(1) Cambridge J Regions Econ Soc 63 Article examining how the impact of welfare reform has had a disproportionate effect on different regional areas, leading to a wider gap between prosperous and poor local economies.
Bennett,Fran and Sung,Siring ‘Gender implications of UK welfare reform and government equality duties: evidence from qualitative studies’ (2013) 3(7) Oñati Socio-Legal Series 1202 Paper draws upon qualitative studies and the authors own independent research on the gendered impact of universal credit, to discuss how qualitative research can influence government policy with regards to the need to respect public sector equality duties.
Bynner,Claire 'Equity, Austerity and Access to Public Services' (2012) 18 eSharp 1 Research essay which looks at the impact of austerity measures on fairness in access to public services.
Cross,Merry ‘Demonised, Impoverished and Now Forced into Isolation: The Fate of Disabled People under Austerity.’ (2013) 28(5) Disabil Soc 719 Article exploring the detrimental effects of welfare reform on disabled people, with a particular focus on how the change from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments has affected disabled claimants.
Garthwaite,Kayleigh A ‘Fear of the Brown Envelope: Exploring Welfare Reform with Long-Term Sickness Benefits Recipients’ (2013) 48(7) Soc Policy Admin 782 Article presenting qualitative evidence on the effect of welfare reform based on data from twenty five in depth interviews with long term sickness benefit recipients in the North East of England.
Gibb,Kenneth ‘The multiple policy failures of the UK bedroom tax’ (2015) 15(2) International Journal of Housing Policy 148 Article highlighting the fundamental design problems of the bedroom tax, including its under evidenced conceptualisation, implementation failures and unintended detrimental consequences for certain groups of individuals.
Ginn,Jay 'Austerity and Inequality: Exploring the Impact of Cuts in the UK by Gender and Age' (2013) 1(1) Research on Ageing and Social Policy 28 Looking at the fairness of austerity measures and how it is affecting these groups of people.
Ginn,Jay 'Unkindest Cuts: The Impact on Older People' (2010) 103 Radical Statistics 50 Paper examining how proposed reforms by the coalition governement will have an adverse effect on older people.
Hancock,Ruth and Pudney,Stephen ‘Assessing the distributional impact of reforms to disability benefits for older people in the UK: Implications of alternative measures of income and disability costs’ (2014) 34 (2) Ageing Soc 232 Article exploring how the withdrawl of Disability Living Allowance will have a disproportionate effect on low income individuals, and how official reports have overstated claimants’ ability to absorb the loss of DLA.
Johnston,David W and Lordan,Grace 'When Work Disappears: Racial Prejudice and Recession Labour Market Penalties' (2014) LSE Centre for Economic Performance discussion papers, Paper No 1257 Discussion paper looking at the impact of unemployment and financial crisis on equality for BAME people.
MacLeavy,Julie ‘A 'new politics' of austerity, workfare and
gender? the UK coalition government's welfare reform proposals’ (2011) 4(3) Cambridge J Regions Econ Soc 289
Paper examines how welfare reform including the simplification of working age benefits into the universal credit system presents a worrying challenge to the autonomy and financial security of many women.
Marmot,Michael; Bloomer,Ellen and Goldblatt,Peter 'The Role of Social Determinants in Tackling Health Objectives in a Context of Economic Crisis' (2013) 35(1) Public Health Rev 1 Discussing the effect of austerity on the health of those from disadvantaged, low income households.
Moffat,S ‘A qualitative study of the impact of the UK ‘bedroom tax’ (2015) 37(2) J Public Health 1 Qualitative study looking at how implementation of the ‘bedroom tax’ otherwise known as removal of the spare room subsidy, has impacted on the health and wellbeing of affected social housing tenants.