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Two Sides to Every Story: Measuring the Polarisation of Work

  • Paul Gregg
  • Jonathan Wadsworth

Individual and household based aggregate measures of joblessness can, and do, offer conflicting signals about labour market performance if work is unequally distributed. Thispaper introduces a simple set of indices that can be used to measure the extent of divergencebetween individual and household-based jobless measures. The indices, built around acomparison of the actual household jobless rate with that which would occur if work wererandomly distributed over the working age population, conform to basic consistency axiomsand can be decomposed to try to identify the likely source of any disparity betweennonemployment rates calculated at the 2 levels of aggregation. Applying these measures todata for Britain, we show that there has been a growing disparity ¿ polarisation - between theindividual and household based jobless measures that are largely unrelated to changes inhousehold structure or the principal characteristics associated with individual joblessness.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0632.

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Date of creation: May 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0632
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  1. Haddad, L. & Kanbur, R., 1989. "How Serious Is The Neglectof Intra-Household Inequality?," Papers 450, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  2. Dickens & David T. Ellwood, 2004. "Whither Poverty in Great Britain and the United States? The Determinants of Changing Poverty and Whether Work Will Work," NBER Chapters, in: Seeking a Premier Economy: The Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980-2000, pages 313-370 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521556989 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Esteban, J. & Gradin, C. & Ray, D., 1999. "Extension of a Measure of Polarization, with an Application to the Income Distribution of Five OECD Countries," Papers 24, El Instituto de Estudios Economicos de Galicia Pedro Barrie de la Maza.
  5. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521553261 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
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