Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research - Research Publications
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ItemThe Impact of the Pandemic on Gender Inequality in the Australian Labor MarketMooi-Reci, I ; Trinh, T-A ; Wooden, M (SAGE PUBLICATIONS INC, 2022-04-01)We examine whether the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the associated policy responses have aggravated gender inequality in the Australian labor market. Using quarterly data from the Australian Labour Force Survey between November 2019 and November 2021, we compare labor force outcomes before and during the outbreak. Our findings indicate that while women fared worse than men in the first few months of the pandemic, labor market recovery was much more rapid for women. By the end of the period, on most indicators, women’s position in the labor market had improved relative to that of men.
ItemJobless parents, unhealthy children? How past exposure to parental joblessness influences children's future healthMooi-Reci, I ; Wooden, M (ELSEVIER SCI LTD, 2022-09-01)RATIONALE: Despite a growing body of work investigating the combined effects of maternal and paternal joblessness for children's outcomes, very little is known about the long-term effects of parental joblessness on children's health, and especially health during adulthood. OBJECTIVE: The primary objective of this study is to directly test whether exposure to parental joblessness during childhood and early adulthood has adverse consequences for health in later years. This study also explores whether family resources, time inputs and family harmony mediate this relationship. METHODS: Multilevel generalized structural equation models describing processes influencing child health outcomes in later life are estimated using longitudinal data from 19 waves of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey (N = 2875 individuals and 22,942 person-year observations). RESULTS: Parental joblessness, especially when experienced over a protracted period, is found to impose a penalty on children's mental health in later life, which is mostly not mediated by other variables. A significant negative association with general health is also found, but in this case family income and family harmony play a more important mediating role. CONCLUSION: The results suggest that it is not parental job loss per se that matters, but parents not being able to quickly find alternative employment. It is only children in families where joblessness is protracted and long-lasting who are at serious risk of long-term health problems. In sum, our results imply that the parental outcome that is most important for children's later health, and especially their mental health, is continuous paid employment. Such findings provide support for a jobs-first policy emphasis.
ItemEffect of lockdown on mental health in Australia: evidence from a natural experiment analysing a longitudinal probability sample surveyButterworth, P ; Schurer, S ; Trong-Anh, T ; Vera-Toscano, E ; Wooden, M (ELSEVIER SCI LTD, 2022-04-26)BACKGROUND: Many studies have examined population mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic but have been unable to isolate the direct effect of lockdowns. The aim of this study was to examine changes in the mental health of Australians aged 15 years and older during the COVID-19 pandemic using a quasi-experimental design to disentangle the lockdown effect. METHODS: We analysed data from ten annual waves (2011-20) of the longitudinal Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey to identify changes in the mental health of respondents from the pre-COVID-19 period (2011-19) to the COVID-19 period (2020). Difference-in-differences models were used to compare these changes between respondents in the state of Victoria who were exposed to lockdown at the time of the 2020 interviews (treatment group) and respondents living elsewhere in Australia (who were living relatively free of restrictions; control group). The models included state, year (survey wave), and person-specific fixed effects. Mental health was assessed using the five-item Mental Health Inventory (MHI-5), which was included in the self-complete questionnaire administered during the survey. FINDINGS: The analysis sample comprised 151 583 observations obtained from 20 839 individuals from 2011 to 2020. The treatment group included 3568 individuals with a total of 37 578 observations (34 010 in the pre-COVID-19 and 3568 in the COVID-19 period), and the control group included 17 271 individuals with 114 005 observations (102 867 in the pre-COVID-19 and 11 138 in the COVID-19 period). Mean MHI-5 scores did not differ between the treatment group (72·9 points [95% CI 72·8-73·2]) and control group (73·2 points [73·1-73·3]) in the pre-COVID-19 period. In the COVID-19 period, decreased mean scores were seen in both the treatment group (69·6 points [69·0-70·2]) and control group (70·8 points [70·5-71·2]). Difference-in-differences estimation showed a small but statistically significant effect of lockdown on MHI-5 scores, with greater decline for residents of Victoria in 2020 than for those in the rest of Australia (difference -1·4 points [95% CI -1·7 to -1·2]). Stratified analyses showed that this lockdown effect was larger for females (-2·2 points [-2·6 to -1·7]) than for males (-0·6 [-0·8 to -0·5]), and even larger for women in couples with children younger than 15 years (-4·4 points [-5·0 to -3·8]), and for females who lived in flats or apartments (-4·1 points [-5·4 to -2·8]) or semi-detached houses, terraced houses, or townhouses (-4·8 points [-6·4 to -3·2]). INTERPRETATION: The imposition of lockdowns was associated with a modest negative change in overall population mental health. The results suggest that the mental health effects of lockdowns differ by population subgroups and for some might have exaggerated existing inequalities in mental health. Although lockdowns have been an important public health tool in suppressing community transmission of COVID-19, more research is needed into the potential psychosocial impacts of such interventions to inform their future use. FUNDING: US National Institutes of Health.
ItemRe-engaging with survey non-respondents: Evidence from three household panelsWatson, N ; Wooden, M (Wiley, 2014)Previous research into the correlates and determinants of non‐response in longitudinal surveys has focused exclusively on why it is that respondents at one survey wave choose not to participate at future waves. This is very understandable if non‐response is always an absorbing state, but in many longitudinal surveys, and certainly most household panels, this is not so. Indeed, in these surveys it is normal practice to attempt to make contact with many non‐respondents at the next wave. This study differs from previous research by examining re‐engagement with previous wave non‐respondents. Drawing on data from three national household panels it is found that the re‐engagement decision is indeed distinctly different from the decision about continued participation. Further, these differences have clear implications for the way that panel surveys should be administered given the desire to enhance overall response rates.
ItemNo Preview AvailableWhy Parental Unemployment Matters for Children’s Educational Attainment: Empirical Evidence from the NetherlandsMooi-Reci, I ; Bakker, B ; Curry, M ; Wooden, M (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2019)This study examines the effect of parents’ unemployment on their children’s subsequent educational attainment. Its theoretical significance lies on its focus to test the mediating role of parents’ changing work ethics during spells of unemployment. Integrating multiple survey and administrative data sources, our estimates are based on a sample of Dutch children (n = 812) who were exposed to their parents’ unemployment during the previous economic crisis in the early 1980s. Our results reveal a direct negative effect between fathers’ unemployment duration and their children’s educational attainment and also an indirect effect through mothers’ changing attitudes towards work. We also find empirical evidence that mothers’ and fathers’ whose views about work become more pessimistic lead to reduced educational attainment among their children.
ItemDoes solo self-employment serve as a 'stepping stone' to employership?Cowling, ML ; Wooden, M (ELSEVIER, 2021-01-01)This paper examines the extent to which solo self-employment serves as a vehicle for job creation. Using panel data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, a dynamic multinomial logit model of transitions between labour market states is estimated. The empirical strategy closely follows that used in a previous study employing household data from Germany by Lechmann and Wunder (2017). Estimates of true cross-state dependence between solo self-employment and employership are obtained that are relatively small. Further, the results imply that the probability of a male worker being an employer just two years after transitioning out of solo self-employment is only about 4% (and among women, it is just 2%). The extent of both true cross-state dependence and true state dependence in employership is, however, much greater among individuals who have demonstrated a preference for self-employment in the past. This implies that pro-entrepreneurial policies that target more ‘entrepreneurial’ individuals will have more pronounced and long-term effects in stimulating job creation.
ItemIs casual employment in Australia bad for workers' health?Hahn, MH ; McVicar, D ; Wooden, M (BMJ Publishing Group, 2021-01-01)Objectives This paper assessed the impact of working in casual employment, compared with permanent employment, on eight health attributes that make up the 36-Item Short Form (SF-36) Health Survey, separately by sex. The mental health impacts of casual jobs with irregular hours over which the worker reports limited control were also investigated. Methods Longitudinal data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey, over the period 2001–2018, were used to investigate the relationship between the eight SF-36 subscales and workers’ employment contract type. Individual, household and job characteristic confounders were included in dynamic panel data regression models with correlated random effects. Results For both men and women, health outcomes for casual workers were no worse than for permanent workers for any of the eight SF-36 health attributes. For some health attributes, scores for casual workers were higher (ie, better) than for permanent workers (role physical: men: β=1.15, 95% CI 0.09 to 2.20, women: β=1.79, 95% CI 0.79 to 2.80; bodily pain: women: β=0.90, 95% CI 0.25 to 1.54; vitality: women: β=0.65, 95% CI 0.13 to 1.18; social functioning: men: β=1.00, 95% CI 0.28 to 1.73); role emotional: men: β=1.81, 95% CI 0.73 to 2.89, women: β=1.24, 95% CI 0.24 to 2.24). Among women (but not men), mental health and role emotional scores were lower for irregular casual workers than for regular permanent workers but not statistically significantly so. Conclusions This study found no evidence that casual employment in Australia is detrimental to self-assessed worker health.
ItemThe Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) SurveyWooden, M ; WATSON, N (De Gruyter, 2021)This paper provides a brief summary of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, a nationally representative household panel survey. It describes the survey’s key design features, provides an overview of its content, and reports on response rates and sample sizes. It also highlights a few examples of research utilising the data, discusses two challenges currently facing the study, and provides details on how to access the data.
ItemWeekend work and work-family conflict: Evidence from Australian panel dataLass, I ; Wooden, M (WILEY, 2021-06-01)Objective: This article investigates whether weekend work is associated with higher levels of work–family conflict (WFC) among parents, and whether resources like schedule control or presence of a partner mitigate this effect. Background: The 24/7 economy requires many workers to work on weekends. Nevertheless, research on the impact of weekend work on families, and on WFC in particular, is underdeveloped, with previous studies relying on cross-sectional data and small samples. Method: Associations between regular weekend work and a measure of WFC are examined using data from 14 waves of The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. The sample is restricted to workers aged 18–64 years with parenting responsibilities for children aged 17 or less (7747 individuals, 40,192 observations). Both pooled ordinary least squares and fixed-effects regression models are estimated. Results: Among both genders, weekend workers have significantly higher levels of WFC than those who only work weekdays. WFC is particularly high for those who work weekends and simultaneously have little control over their schedule. Furthermore, weekend work affects WFC similarly for couple and single parents and, within dual-earner families, independently of the partner's working schedule. Conclusion: Weekend work generally has a detrimental effect on workers' ability to combine employment with parenting commitments. However, work–domain resources like schedule control can buffer the impact of weekend work.
ItemRecurring pain, mental health problems and sick leave in AustraliaLallukka, T ; Hiilamo, A ; Wooden, M ; Glozier, N ; Marshall, N ; Milner, A ; Butterworth, P (Elsevier BV, 2021-12)A substantial proportion of Australians report recurring pain and mental health problems, but their separate and joint contributions to sick leave use has not been examined. This study examines the interaction of pain and mental health problems with sick leave usage and the extent to which unobservable time-invariant factors contribute to these conditions and the propensity to take sick leave. Longitudinal data on self-reported paid sick leave days, pain, mental health problems and multiple covariates, and spanning the period 2005 to 2019, were derived from the Household, Income, and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey. The analysis included 3404 and 3448 employed women and men, respectively, with paid sick leave entitlements, with an average of 6 observations each. Negative binomial regression models were used to investigate the association while adjusting for multiple covariates. After multiple adjustments, recurring pain was linked to 1.7 additional sick leave days per year among women and 2.3 among men, whereas the corresponding figures for recurring mental health problems were 1.5 and 0.7, respectively. Time-constant between-individual heterogeneity slightly attenuated these estimates, suggesting that unobserved characteristics contribute to both symptoms and a higher propensity to take sick leave. Pain and mental health problems – single-occasion but particularly recurring – are both important contributors to sick leave days in Australia. However, their effects do not appear to interact with one another. Thus, to help the employees continue working, mental health problems and pain have to be tackled early on, aiming to reduce any stigma related to them. Moreover, modification in working conditions could be useful in finding better matches between employees and their jobs, provided that the employer is aware of the mental health problems and pain of their employees.
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