IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Local Underemployment and the Discouraged Worker Effect


  • Maarten van Ham

    (Urban Research Centre (URU), Faculty of Geographical Sciences, Utrecht University, PO Box 80.115, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands,

  • Clara H. Mulder

    (Urban Research Centre (URU), Faculty of Geographical Sciences, Utrecht University, PO Box 80.115, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands,

  • Pieter Hooimeijer

    (Urban Research Centre (URU), Faculty of Geographical Sciences, Utrecht University, PO Box 80.115, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands,


The effect of poor local labour market opportunities on occupational achievement is an important aspect of the spatial mismatch hypothesis. Much of the research has concentrated on the direct link between geographical access to jobs and employment outcomes. In contrast, little attention has been given to the discouraging effect of poor chances on job search activities. The discouraged worker effect is defined as the decision to refrain from job search as a result of poor chances on the labour market. Discouragement effects can arise from a lack of individual qualifications, from discrimination in the labour market or from a high local level of underemployment. The empirical findings of this paper, based on the Netherlands Labour Force Surveys 1994-97, show that discouragement can enter the job search process both at the stage of deciding to enter the labour force and at the stage of deciding to engage actively in a job search. Gender differentials in discouragement are revealed in the process of self-selection into the labour force. Poor labour market chances lead to less activity in both off-the-job and on-the-job search, indicating a role of discouragement in the spatial mismatch. Individual qualifications and ascribed characteristics turn out to be more decisive than the local level of underemployment.

Suggested Citation

  • Maarten van Ham & Clara H. Mulder & Pieter Hooimeijer, 2001. "Local Underemployment and the Discouraged Worker Effect," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 38(10), pages 1733-1751, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:urbstu:v:38:y:2001:i:10:p:1733-1751

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Maarten Van Ham & Felix Buchel, 2006. "Unwilling or unable? spatial and socio-economic restrictions on females' labour market access," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(3), pages 345-357.
    2. Viktor Venhorst & Jouke Van Dijk & Leo Van Wissen, 2011. "An Analysis of Trends in Spatial Mobility of Dutch Graduates," Spatial Economic Analysis, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 57-82.
    3. repec:spd:journl:v:67:y:2017:i:4:p:45-84 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Malgorzata Mikucka, 2016. "How to Measure Employment Status and Occupation in Analyses of Survey Data? (Jak mierzyc status zatrudnienia i pozycjê zawodowa w analizach danych sondazowych?)," Problemy Zarzadzania, University of Warsaw, Faculty of Management, vol. 14(60), pages 40-60.
    5. repec:taf:applec:v:49:y:2017:i:60:p:5971-5982 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Beate Henschel, 2008. "Why is the share of women willing to work in East Germany larger than in West Germany? A logit model of extensive labour supply decision," ifo Working Paper Series 56, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    7. Ewa Gałecka-Burdziak & Marek Góra, 2016. "The impact of easy and early access to old-age benefits on exits from the labour market: a macro-micro analysis," IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-18, December.
    8. Johann Fuchs & Enzo Weber, 2017. "Long-term unemployment and labour force participation: a decomposition of unemployment to test for the discouragement and added worker hypotheses," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(60), pages 5971-5982, December.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sae:urbstu:v:38:y:2001:i:10:p:1733-1751. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (SAGE Publications). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.