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Labour Force Participation and Household Debt

Author

Listed:
  • Rochelle Belkar

    (Reserve Bank of Australia)

  • Lynne Cockerell

    (Reserve Bank of Australia)

  • Rebecca Edwards

    (Reserve Bank of Australia)

Abstract

In the past decade or so there has been a substantial rise in the indebtedness and debt-servicing obligations of Australian households. This has been accompanied by a trend increase in labour force participation (LFP) for women and more recently for men. Microeconomic data show a clear positive correlation between indebtedness and LFP. This paper models the LFP decision of prime-age Australian women and men accounting for the influence of debt and assets along with a range of other variables found to be important in the literature. The potential two-way causation between debt and labour supply is also addressed. Data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey are used as it contains recent and detailed data on household wealth along with extensive labour market and demographic data. A cross-section model of LFP is estimated using the detailed measures of household debts and assets available in Wave 2 of the survey. In addition, a panel model, using only measures of owner-occupied housing debt and assets, is estimated using all five currently available waves. Evidence is presented to suggest that LFP is determined by several factors, including family structure, education, health and indebtedness. In general, most of the effect of indebtedness on an individual’s probability of participation in the labour force is captured through the household debt-servicing ratio, although the level of owner-occupied mortgage debt appears important for men. Also, the panel results suggest that accounting for unobserved heterogeneity across individuals is important when examining the influence of debt on labour supply.

Suggested Citation

  • Rochelle Belkar & Lynne Cockerell & Rebecca Edwards, 2007. "Labour Force Participation and Household Debt," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2007-05, Reserve Bank of Australia.
  • Handle: RePEc:rba:rbardp:rdp2007-05
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    File URL: http://www.rba.gov.au/publications/rdp/2007/pdf/rdp2007-05.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Verbeek, Marno & Nijman, Theo, 1992. "Testing for Selectivity Bias in Panel Data Models," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 33(3), pages 681-703, August.
    2. David Domeij & Martin Floden, 2006. "The Labor-Supply Elasticity and Borrowing Constraints: Why Estimates are Biased," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(2), pages 242-262, April.
    3. Rivers, Douglas & Vuong, Quang H., 1988. "Limited information estimators and exogeneity tests for simultaneous probit models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 347-366, November.
    4. Fortin, Nicole M, 1995. "Allocation Inflexibilities, Female Labor Supply, and Housing Assets Accumulation: Are Women Working to Pay the Mortgage?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(3), pages 524-557, July.
    5. Renata Bottazzi, 2004. "Labour market participation and mortgage related borrowing constraints," IFS Working Papers W04/09, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    6. Heckman, James J, 1993. "What Has Been Learned about Labor Supply in the Past Twenty Years?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 116-121, May.
    7. Christopher Worswick, 1999. "Credit Constraints and the Labour Supply of Immigrant Families in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 32(1), pages 152-170, February.
    8. Nijman, T.E. & Verbeek, M.J.C.M., 1992. "Testing for selectivity in panel data models," Other publications TiSEM 7ec34a6c-1d84-4052-971c-d, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
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    Cited by:

    1. Joanna Abhayaratna & Les Andrews & Hudan Nuch & Troy Podbury, 2008. "Part Time Employment: the Australian Experience," Staff Working Papers 0805, Productivity Commission, Government of Australia.
    2. Ellis Connolly & Kathryn Davis & Gareth Spence, 2011. "Trends in Labour Supply," RBA Bulletin, Reserve Bank of Australia, pages 1-8, June.
    3. Sarantis Lolos & Evangelia Papapetrou, 2011. "Housing credit and female labour supply: assessing the evidence from Greece," Working Papers 141, Bank of Greece.
    4. Jeff Borland, 2011. "The Australian Labour Market in the 2000s: The Quiet Decade," RBA Annual Conference Volume,in: Hugo Gerard & Jonathan Kearns (ed.), The Australian Economy in the 2000s Reserve Bank of Australia.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    labour force participation; household debt; credit constraints; HILDA;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure

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