09:26am Wednesday 13 December 2017

Living in a jobless household increases risk of ongoing unemployment, report finds

According to the “Dynamics of Household Joblessness” study, age, education and gender are the key factors in ongoing household joblessness, a condition study co-author Associate Professor Guyonne Kalb refers to as ‘sticky unemployment’, where “unemployment was found to continue in a self-perpetuating manner.”

“Being in a jobless household in the previous year dramatically increased the probability of continuing to live in one by 7.7 to 17.2 per cent for men and 12.7 to 25.1 per cent for women.” 

“Age also had a substantial effect on this ‘stickiness’, particularly for men over 60, for whom the rate of continued unemployment can increase by up to 50 per cent, reaching similar levels as women.”

Together with Dr Nicolas Hérault and Ms Rezida Zakirova, Associate Professor Kalb, the Director of Labour Economics and Social Policy at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, compiled the findings using seven years of data from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey through a study commissioned by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). 

Examining results for five OECD countries, the study found that individual jobless rates have fallen over the past twenty years, while household-based jobless rates have not. Similar trends in household joblessness were found that appear to be specific to Britain and Australia, amongst the five countries compared – Australia, Germany, Spain, Britain and the United States. 

According to Associate Professor Kalb, “High rates of employment disparities in Britain and Australia are more concentrated on single adults than in other countries. There appears to be a high unemployment among single-adult households that is less prevalent elsewhere.”

Another link between both countries was also found between the large proportion of children living in jobless households, which has high consequences for poverty as up to 70 per cent of poor children in Australia live in jobless families.

“The joblessness of parents appears to be the main cause of relatively-low income in childhood, hence children growing up in jobless households is an area of concern,” Associate Professor Kalb said. 

“Given the widespread evidence that parental income and background may have significant effects on the future welfare of children, research on household joblessness has major relevance for social policy and welfare planning with regards to the transfer of poverty from one generation to the next.”

To access the full ‘Dynamics of Household Joblessness’ study, please view: http://www.melbourneinsti…

More information: 

Associate Professor Guyonne Kalb (Melbourne Institute): T: +61 3 83442095 E: g.kalb@unimelb.edu.au

Lyn Toh (Media Unit): T: +613 83444123 E: ltoh@unimelb.edu.au

David Scott (Media Unit): T: +613 83440561 M: 0409024230 E:


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