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Indigenous labour force status re-visited: factors associated with the discouraged worker phenomenon


  • Boyd Hunter

    () (The Australian National University)

  • Matthew Gray

    (Australian Institute of Family Studies)


Indigenous people are more likely to be discouraged from looking for work than other Australians. Data from the 1994 National Aboringinal and Torres Strait Islander Survey are used to analyse the factors that lead many indigenous people who want to work to not seek work, and hence remain outside the labour force. This article confirms the importance of labour supply factors (including family, cultural and social environmental factors), but also emphasises the interaction between the supply and demand side of the labour market. An important finding is that indigenous people want to work as much as other Australians. This means that policies aimed at increasing the demand for their services are crucial. Two examples of the latter are education and regional development policies. The article also argues that a broader definition of discouraged worker should be considered for all Australians.

Suggested Citation

  • Boyd Hunter & Matthew Gray, 2000. "Indigenous labour force status re-visited: factors associated with the discouraged worker phenomenon," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 4(2), pages 111-133, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ozl:journl:v:4:y:2001:i:2:p:111-133

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    Cited by:

    1. Boyd Hunter & John Taylor, 2004. "Indigenous Employment Forecasts: Implications for Reconciliation," Agenda - A Journal of Policy Analysis and Reform, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics, vol. 11(2), pages 179-192.
    2. Guyonne Kalb & Trinh Le & Boyd Hunter & Felix Leung, 2012. "Decomposing Differences in Labour Force Status between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2012n20, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.

    More about this item


    Unemployment; models; duration; incidence and job search; Time allocation and labour supply; Economics and minorities; Particular labor markets;

    JEL classification:

    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J40 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - General


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