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Employment Polarisation in Australia

  • Peter Dawkins
  • Paul Gregg
  • Rosanna Scutella

    ()

Whilst employment levels in Australia are healthy when compared to those twenty years ago, the available work has become increasingly polarised into either all-work or no-work households. This paper measures the extent of polarisation that has taken place in Australia since 1982 with a measure that accounts for changes in individual based employment and family structure. We find that employment growth over the period should have largely offset the effects of shifts in household composition towards more single-adult households. However, polarisation of employment across households means that there are around 3.3 percent more households with no earned income. We also find that couples with children have faced the bulk of this rising joblessness as a result of this polarisation. Exploration of wider shifts in employment away from less-educated men and toward prime-age better educated women explain about 40% of the adverse shift against couples with children. The increase in all-work households is confined to multi-adult households, again focused on families with children. Hence, there is a large shift in patterns of employment in households with children, away from a dominant single male earner model toward more dual-earner and no-earner households with children. This dramatic polarisation of work and incomes for families with children is likely to have consequence for welfare costs and child opportunities in the next generation.

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File URL: http://www.bris.ac.uk/Depts/CMPO/workingpapers/wp50.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK in its series The Centre for Market and Public Organisation with number 02/050.

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Length: 55 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:02/050
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  1. repec:nsr:niesrd:72 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Paul Gregg & Jonathan Wadsworth, 2004. "Two sides to every story: measuring the polarisation of work," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19959, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Gregory, R.G. & Hunter, B., 1995. "The Macro Economy and the Growth of Ghettos and Urban Poverty in Australia," CEPR Discussion Papers 325, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  4. P.W. Miller, 1997. "The burden of unemployment on family units: An overview," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 97-01, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
  5. Peter Dawkins & Paul Gregg & Rosanna Scutella, 2001. "The Growth of Jobless Households in Australia," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2001n03, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  6. Paul Gregg, 1996. "It Takes Two: Employment Polarisation in the OECD," CEP Discussion Papers dp0304, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. Bob Gregory, 1999. "Children and the Changing Labour Market: Joblessness in Families with Dependent Children," CEPR Discussion Papers 406, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  8. Dawkins, Peter, 1996. "The Distribution of Work in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 72(218), pages 272-86, September.
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