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

Author

Listed:
  • Karon Gush

    (University of Essex, UK)

  • James Scott

    (University of Essex, UK)

  • Heather Laurie

    (University of Essex, UK)

Abstract

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
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    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.

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