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Who are the low paid?


  • Seamus McGuinness

    () (The University of Melbourne)

  • John Freebairn

    (The University of Melbourne)


This paper provides pictures of low pay adult employees in Australia in 2004 drawing on data from the HILDA survey. The low paid are disaggregated into full-time and part-time employees. Estimates from multivariate probit models reveal that low wage employees are more likely to have casual status, single marital status, a low educational attainment, aged 21 to 30 or 60 plus, be employed in small firms, non-unionised, and have a lower occupational tenure. The magnitude of effect of these distinguishing characteristics is much larger for part-time versus full-time employees. Low paid employees, and more so in the case of full-time employees, are spread fairly evenly across households with different incomes. For about a half of low paid employees, a low paid job, especially if it is full-time, is a stepping stone to a higher paying job in the future.

Suggested Citation

  • Seamus McGuinness & John Freebairn, 2007. "Who are the low paid?," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 10(1), pages 17-37, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:ozl:journl:v:10:y:2007:i:1:p:17-37

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ashenfelter, Orley, 1980. "Unemployment as Disequilibrium in a Model of Aggregate Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(3), pages 547-564, April.
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    3. Andrew Dilnot & Alan Duncan, 1992. "Lone mothers, family credit and paid work," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 13(1), pages 1-21, February.
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    5. John Creedy & Alan S. Duncan & Mark Harris & Rosanna Scutella, 2002. "Microsimulation Modelling of Taxation and the Labour Market," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 2796.
    6. John Muellbauer, 1981. "Linear Aggregation in Neoclassical Labour Supply," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(1), pages 21-36.
    7. Heckman, James J, 1993. "What Has Been Learned about Labor Supply in the Past Twenty Years?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 116-121, May.
    8. Altonji, Joseph G, 1986. "Intertemporal Substitution in Labor Supply: Evidence from Micro Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 176-215, June.
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    More about this item


    Labor Economics Policies; Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials; Wages; Compensation; and Labor Costs; Public Policy;

    JEL classification:

    • J08 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics Policies
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy


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