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Contingent Employment and Labour Market Pathways: Bridge or Trap?


  • McVicar, Duncan

    () (Queen's University Belfast)

  • Wooden, Mark

    () (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research)

  • Fok, Yin King

    () (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research)


The debate over whether contingent (and typically more precarious) employment acts as a bridge to permanent employment, or as a trap, has tended to focus on transitions rather than longer-run pathways. This approach cannot accurately identify indirect pathways from contingent to permanent employment, and nor can it identify 'trap' pathways involving short spells in other states. It also fails to distinguish between those experiencing contingent employment as a 'blip' and those with longer spells. This article employs a different approach involving sequence analysis. Exploiting longitudinal data for Australian, evidence for the co-existence of pathways that correspond to 'bridge' and 'trap' characterisations of contingent employment is found. Further, in the case of casual employment these two types of labour market pathways are roughly equally prevalent, although for some groups – in particular women, those with low educational attainment, and those with a disability – 'traps' are more likely than 'bridges'.

Suggested Citation

  • McVicar, Duncan & Wooden, Mark & Fok, Yin King, 2017. "Contingent Employment and Labour Market Pathways: Bridge or Trap?," IZA Discussion Papers 10768, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10768

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alison L. Booth & Marco Francesconi & Jeff Frank, 2002. "Temporary Jobs: Stepping Stones Or Dead Ends?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(480), pages 189-213, June.
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    11. Duncan McVicar & Michael Anyadike-Danes, 2002. "Predicting successful and unsuccessful transitions from school to work by using sequence methods," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 165(2), pages 317-334.
    12. Tomas Korpi & Henrik Levin, 2001. "Precarious Footing: Temporary Employment as a Stepping Stone out of Unemployment in Sweden," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 15(1), pages 127-148, March.
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    More about this item


    casual employment; contingent employment; temporary employment; pathways; segmented labour markets; sequence analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • C38 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Classification Methdos; Cluster Analysis; Principal Components; Factor Analysis

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