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Determinants of Australian Mothers’ Employment: An Analysis of Lone and Couple Mothers


  • Matthew Gray

    () (Australian Institute of Family Studies)

  • Lixia Qu

    (LaTrobe University)


While the lower rates of employment of lone mothers as compared with couple mothers has been well-documented, the reasons for the employment gap are less well understood. This paper uses data from the 1996 Australian Census to analyse the factors which explain the employment gap. We find that the employment probability determinants are generally similar for lone and couple mothers, although there are several important differences. In general, factors that are typically associated with lower rates of employment, and could be considered a barrier to employment, have a larger negative effect on the probability of employment of lone mother than on couple mothers. Importantly, it is found that the presence of children has a similar impact on the employment of lone and couple mothers. The analysis also reveals that around one-third of the employment gap is due to differences in the characteristics of the lone and couple mothers.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew Gray & Lixia Qu, 2003. "Determinants of Australian Mothers’ Employment: An Analysis of Lone and Couple Mothers," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 6(4), pages 597-617, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ozl:journl:v:6:y:2003:i:4:p:597-617

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anh T. Le & Paul W. Miller, 2000. "An Evaluation of Inertia Models of Unemployment," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 33(3), pages 205-220.
    2. Russell Ross & Peter Saunders, 1990. "The Labour Supply Behaviour of Single Mothers and Married Mothers in Australia," Discussion Papers 0019, University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre.
    3. Hersch, Joni & Stratton, Leslie S, 1994. "Housework, Wages, and the Division of Housework Time for Employed Spouses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 120-125, May.
    4. Harris, Mark N, 1996. "Modelling the Probability of Youth Unemployment in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 72(217), pages 118-129, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Matthew Gray & Lixia Qu & Jennifer Renda & David de Vaus, 2004. "Changes in the labour force status of lone and couple Australian mothers, 1983-2002," Labor and Demography 0405004, EconWPA.
    2. Wamuthenya, W.R., 2010. "Economic crisis and women’s employment rate in a Sub-Saharan African country," ISS Working Papers - General Series 19427, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.

    More about this item


    Economics of Gender Time Allocation; Work Behavior; Employment Determination and Creation Time Allocation; etc.;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply


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