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An Equity-based Redefinition of Underemployment and Unemployment and Some Measurements


  • Bijou Yang Lester
  • Roger McCain


An attempt is made in this article to redefine underemployment and unemployment without making reference to an excess supply of labor or any causal mechanism of unemployment. Instead, underemployment and unemployment are defined in terms of equity which draws upon the individual's preferences. A specific proposal is that underemployment be defined by the presence of contribution inequity relative to at least half the persons employed in a field that the underemployed person might prefer to move into. Empirically, most recent survey data on preferences for contingent and other nontraditional employment are used to illustrate the application of the concept. The major finding is that nearly 10 million Americans in the nontraditional workforce are underemployed.

Suggested Citation

  • Bijou Yang Lester & Roger McCain, 2001. "An Equity-based Redefinition of Underemployment and Unemployment and Some Measurements," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 59(2), pages 133-159.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:59:y:2001:i:2:p:133-159
    DOI: 10.1080/00346760121932

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    Cited by:

    1. Vlad I. RO?CA & Oana-Lorena ?EPOSU, 2018. "The Influence of Education on Subjective Underemployment: Research on Multinational Corporations in Romania," REVISTA DE MANAGEMENT COMPARAT INTERNATIONAL/REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL COMPARATIVE MANAGEMENT, Faculty of Management, Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest, Romania, vol. 19(4), pages 328-340, October.


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