IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Households’ responses to spousal job loss: ‘all change’ or ‘carry on as usual’?


  • Karon Gush

    (University of Essex, UK)

  • James Scott

    (University of Essex, UK)

  • Heather Laurie

    (University of Essex, UK)


Economic theory suggests that when a primary earner within a couple loses their job, one potential response is for the secondary earner to seek additional paid work to bolster their household finances. The empirical quantitative evidence regarding any such ‘added worker effect’ is mixed, and, to investigate why this might be, the article explores processes behind couples’ responses to job loss. Drawing on in-depth qualitative interviews conducted with a purposive sample selected from the Understanding Society Innovation Panel, the analysis examines: (a) anticipation surrounding job loss and job search responses; (b) the extent to which couples adopt long- or short-term labour market perspectives; and (c) whether couples seek to preserve their established division of paid and unpaid labour or re-configure their joint labour supply. Findings indicate that the use of additional spousal labour is only one response among many alternatives and it is typically invoked in cases of serious financial hardship.

Suggested Citation

  • Karon Gush & James Scott & Heather Laurie, 2015. "Households’ responses to spousal job loss: ‘all change’ or ‘carry on as usual’?," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 29(5), pages 703-719, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:woemps:v:29:y:2015:i:5:p:703-719

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:


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

    Cited by:

    1. David Bayliss & Wendy Olsen & Pierre Walthery, 2017. "Well-Being During Recession in the UK," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 12(2), pages 369-387, June.
    2. Aliya Hamid Rao, 2020. "From Professionals to Professional Mothers: How College-educated Married Mothers Experience Unemployment in the US," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 34(2), pages 299-316, April.
    3. Hélène Périvier, 2016. "Recession, austerity and gender: A Comparison of Eight European Labour Markets," Sciences Po publications 2016-05, Sciences Po.
    4. Hélène Perivier, 2016. "Recession, austerity and gender - a comparison of eight european labour markets," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2016-05, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
    5. Jane Elliott & Jon Lawrence, 2016. "The Emotional Economy of Unemployment," SAGE Open, , vol. 6(4), pages 21582440166, December.


    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:woemps:v:29:y:2015:i:5:p:703-719. 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: . 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 bibliographic 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.

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

    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.