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Constraint and Opportunity: Identifying Voluntary Non-Employment

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  • Tania Burchardt
  • Julian Le Grand

Abstract

This paper assesses the extent to which the behaviour of an individual is the result of the constraints that he or she faces, or the result of his or her preferences. It concentrates on participation or non-participation in employment. Following a discussion of potential methodological difficulties, data from the British Household Panel Study are used to construct models of the probability of being in employment. Starting from the position that all non-employment is voluntary, possible constraints are introduced in layers corresponding to the degree to which they are regarded as beyond individual control. Since there may be unobserved constraints, the outcome is cross-checked by starting from the opposite position, namely that all non-employment is involuntary, then subtracting those for whom there is evidence of having chosen to be out of work. The results suggest that after taking into account as many constraints as possible, one-tenth of the non-employment is our sample is unambiguously voluntary, with a further one-tenth being indeterminate.

Suggested Citation

  • Tania Burchardt & Julian Le Grand, 2002. "Constraint and Opportunity: Identifying Voluntary Non-Employment," CASE Papers case55, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:sticas:case55
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    File URL: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/case/cp/CASEpaper55.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Nolan, Brian & Whelan, Christopher T., 1996. "Resources, Deprivation, and Poverty," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198287858.
    2. Haveman, Robert & Bershadker, Andrew, 1998. "Self-Reliance as a Poverty Criterion: Trends in Earnings-Capacity Poverty, 1975-1992," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 342-347, May.
    3. Hahn, F H, 1987. "On Involuntary Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(388a), pages 1-16, Supplemen.
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    Cited by:

    1. Greco, Giulia & Skordis-Worrall, Jolene & Mkandawire, Bryan & Mills, Anne, 2015. "What is a good life? Selecting capabilities to assess women's quality of life in rural Malawi," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 69-78.
    2. Wiebke Kuklys & Ingrid Robeyns, 2004. "Sens's Capability Approach to Welfare Economics," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2004-03, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
    3. Leßmann, Ortrud & Masson, Torsten, 2015. "Sustainable consumption in capability perspective: Operationalization and empirical illustration," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 64-72.
    4. Wiebke Kuklys, 2004. "A Monetary Approach to Capability Measurement of the Disabled - Evidence from the UK," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2004-08, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
    5. Christine le Clainche & Sandy Tubeuf, 2013. "Nannying, nudging, rewarding? A discussion on the constraints and the degree of control over health status," Working Papers 1306, Academic Unit of Health Economics, Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds.
    6. D'Agata, Antonio, 2009. "Measures of freedom," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 209-214, January.
    7. Richard Cookson, 2005. "QALYs and the capability approach," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(8), pages 817-829.
    8. Kuklys, W. & Robeyns, I., 2004. "Sen’s Capability Approach to Welfare Economics," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0415, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    9. Masson, Torsten & Leßmann, Ortrud, 2012. "Nachhaltigkeitsindikatoren und Capabilities: Anknüpfungspunkte aus der deutschen Nachhaltigkeitsforschung," UFZ Discussion Papers 07/2012, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).
    10. Wiebke Kuklys, 2004. "Measuring Standard of Living in the UK - An Application of Sen's Functioning Approach Using Structural Equation Models," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2004-11, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.

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    Keywords

    employment; opportunity; capability; voluntary;

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