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Unemployment Policy: Unemployment, Underemployment and Labour Market Insecurity


  • Stephen Bell

    (University of Queensland)

  • John Quiggin

    () (Department of Economics, University of Queensland)


In this chapter we argue that Australia’s labour market features too much unemployment, underemployment or associated forms of labour market insecurity. The later term implies a weak or tenuous connection to the labour force through underemployment or involuntary casual or part-time work and/or low wages or other manifestations of weakness visà- vis employers. The direct and indirect costs of such malfunctions in the labour market are reflected in a range of economic, social, health and other costs (Watts 2000; Saunders and Taylor 2002). Estimates of the costs of unemployment and underemployment range from $20 to $40bn per annum in Australia (Watts 2000). A good deal of social policy is directed to problems emanating from the labour market and its various malfunctions. Accordingly, a good way to minimize the need for expensive and often difficult social policy interventions is to try and organize the labour market so that it provides reasonable jobs for those that seek them.
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Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Bell & John Quiggin, 2008. "Unemployment Policy: Unemployment, Underemployment and Labour Market Insecurity," Australian Public Policy Program Working Papers WPP08_2, Risk and Sustainable Management Group, University of Queensland.
  • Handle: RePEc:rsm:pubpol:p08_2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. William F. Mitchell & Martin J. Watts, 1997. "The Path to full Employment," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 30(4), pages 436-443.
    2. Fred Argy, 2005. "An Analysis Of Joblessness In Australia," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 24(1), pages 75-96, March.
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    JEL classification:

    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search


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