Trends in Houshold Employment Inequality


  • Susan Singley Singley Associates
  • Paul Callister Callister & Associates



Since at least the mid-1980s there has been a growth both "work-rich" and "work-poor" households across a range of OECD countries, including New Zealand, Australia, and Britain. In this paper, we present initial results from the New Zealand component of an international comparative study on trends in household employment inequality. Using annual household-level HLFS data for 1986 through 2001, we find that household employment inequality increased dramatically during the late 1980s and early 1990s but has since declined to about the 1986 level. The composition of jobless households changed significantly over the period, with joblessness becoming more concentrated among childrearing households. Changes in the employment rates of specific household types were much more important than changes in household structure in shaping the observed trends in household employment inequality. Future research will examine the role of age, education, gender, ethnicity and geographic location in stratifying employment both within and across different household types, and will explore differences between New Zealand and several OECD countries in household employment inequality and associated social and economic policies.


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