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Unemployment traps and age-earnings profiles: estimates for Australia in 2000


  • Bruce Chapman

    () (The Australian National University)

  • John Quiggin

    (Department of Family and Community Services)


The relative costs of taking employment or receiving welfare are usually understood through comparisons of a person’s social security entitlements and their wage alternative, known as replacement rates. In some situations it appears that the additional income from working is negligible, and this is said to constitute an ‘unemployment trap’. However, conventional replacement rates ignore the fact that age-earnings profiles slope upward through the acquisition of labour market experience. We offer a dynamic reinterpretation and compare alternative calculations for Australia in 2000. The usual and incorrect approach exaggerates significantly the likelihood of unemployment traps, but the presence of children and the age of the decision-maker mitigate this considerably, and can even reverse, this assessment.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruce Chapman & John Quiggin, 2000. "Unemployment traps and age-earnings profiles: estimates for Australia in 2000," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 4(3), pages 174-191, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:ozl:journl:v:4:y:2001:i:3:p:174-191

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    More about this item


    Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings Unemployment; Models; Duration; Incidence; and Job Search;

    JEL classification:

    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search


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