The Cambridge Handbook of the Social Sciences in Australia

By Ian McAllister; Steve Dowrick et al. | Go to book overview
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findings on labour-market programs seem broadly consistent with international evidence: some evidence suggests that job-search programs can have positive effects on labour-market outcomes, but it appears that work-experience and training programs generally have little impact (Webster 1998).There is increasing evidence of significant effects on labour supply from the structure and level of welfare payments.This finding is supported by studies of past policy changes such as the reform of the sole parent pension in the late 1980s (Doiron 2002), and by behavioural microsimulation analysis of the effects of policy changes based on structural modelling of labour supply (Duncan and Harris 2002).

Neighbourhood effects

How labour-market outcomes differ between local communities, and the possible consequences, has been a subject of significant recent research activity. One group of studies has documented an increasing divergence in employment/population rates and incomes between census collector districts from the mid-1970s onwards (Hunter 1995; Gregory and Hunter 1995). Other research has found evidence that labour-market outcomes of individuals are related to neighbourhood-level outcomes through the occupational profile of workers in the neighbourhood, and the effect of neighbourhood-level employment rates on job-search methods (Heath 2000; Borland 1995).

Work and family

Increases in labour-force participation of females, particularly those with children, have signalled the decline of the male-breadwinner model of the Australian labour market and have meant that there is growing interest in the interaction between paid work and family issues. Issues such as the role of childcare as a means of achieving equity of opportunity to participate in the paid workforce, the effects of dual participation in the paid workforce by members of a couple on the distribution of household tasks and activities, and the nexus between participation in the paid workforce and the 'make-or-buy' decision on household services (such as cleaning) are emerging as questions of research interest (Apps and Rees 2001; Cass 2002;Wooden 2002;Venn 2002).


I am grateful for excellent research assistance from John-Paul Cashen.


ABS. 1990. Incidence of Industrial Awards, Determinations and Collective Agreements, Australia. Cat. No. 6315.0. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Apps, P., and R. Rees. 2001. Household production, full consumption and the costs of children. Labour Economics 8:621–48.

Beggs, J., and B. Chapman. 1988. Immigrant wage adjustment in Australia: Cross-section and time-series estimates. Economic Record 64:161–7.


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