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Couples’ labour supply responses to job loss: boom and recession compared

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  • Bryan, Mark L.
  • Longhi, Simonetta

Abstract

We examine how couples labour supply behaviour in the UK responds to a job loss by one partner, using the Labour Force Survey to compare the period of growth of 1995-2007 to the Great Recession and its aftermath of 2008-11. In single earner couples during the recession, both men and women substantially increased their job search activity following a partners job loss, while the increase in search during the boom was smaller (and non-existent for men). However, the increase in job search during recession did not appear to translate into more success in finding work for either men or women. Among dual earner couples, we find little evidence that individuals searched for alternative jobs or tried to increase their hours if their partner lost their job, except that women working part-time were more likely to start looking for another job. Both men and women were more likely to quit their job voluntarily if their partner lost their job, but the recession seems to have made people more cautious about voluntarily quitting their job. We find little evidence that people react in advance of job losses, suggesting that unemployment typically comes as a surprise.

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Paper provided by Institute for Social and Economic Research in its series ISER Working Paper Series with number 2013-20.

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Date of creation: 09 Oct 2013
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Publication status: published
Handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:2013-20

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  1. Miki Kohara, 2010. "The response of Japanese wives’ labor supply to husbands’ job loss," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 23(4), pages 1133-1149, September.
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  7. Cullen, Julie Berry & Gruber, Jonathan, 2000. "Does Unemployment Insurance Crowd Out Spousal Labor Supply?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 546-72, July.
  8. Lundberg, Shelly, 1985. "The Added Worker Effect," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 11-37, January.
  9. Dominique Goux & Eric Maurin & Barbara Petrongolo, 2011. "Worktime Regulations and Spousal Labor Supply," CEP Discussion Papers dp1096, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  10. Andrew Benito & Jumana Saleheen, 2013. "Labour Supply as a Buffer: Evidence from UK Households," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 80(320), pages 698-720, October.
  11. Maloney, Tim, 1991. "Unobserved Variables and the Elusive Added Worker Effect," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 58(230), pages 173-87, May.
  12. Blau, David M, 1998. "Labor Force Dynamics of Older Married Couples," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(3), pages 595-629, July.
  13. Spletzer, James R, 1997. "Reexamining the Added Worker Effect," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(2), pages 417-27, April.
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