Older workers who lose their job are at great risk of experiencing long-term unemployment. This vulnerability can be due to negative selection into unemployment or to age discrimination by employers. We empirically test three explanations of why older jobseekers may struggle to get reemployed: employers promote internal careers; employers prefer younger workers for physically demanding jobs; employers perceive older workers as being too expensive. We test these hypotheses by analysing two experiments in Switzerland. In a factorial survey experiment, 500 recruiters indicated for fictional CVs with ages 35–55 the likelihood of an invitation to a job interview. In a natural experiment, 1200 workers were surveyed two years after their plant closed down, allowing us to compare age gaps in reemployment among workers displaced by the same exogenous event. Combining the two experimental methods allows us to increase internal and external validity. Both the factorial survey among recruiters and the survey among displaced workers show large age barriers in hiring. Unemployed workers aged 55 are much less likely to be considered for hiring than those aged 35 with the same productive attributes. This age penalty is larger for blue-collar workers and clerks than upper-level white-collar employees, throwing doubt on the internal career hypothesis. By contrast, results for earnings are consistent with the argument that older workers’ reemployment chances are hampered by high wage costs.
Studies have documented the negative association between divorce and women’s economic wellbeing in several countries. Less is known about whether the effects of divorce on women’s economic wellbeing vary by family size and their persistency. However, larger families are likely more vulnerable to the economic consequences of divorce, and more children are exposed to these consequences in larger families. We present the first comprehensive assessment of how the short-term and medium-term economic consequences of divorce vary by family size. Using data from the US (PSID) and between-within random-effects models, we estimate changes in women’s poverty risk up to six years following divorce, stratified by the number of children in the household in the year of divorce. We add a comparative perspective using a harmonized set of socio-economic panel surveys from Australia (HILDA), Germany (GSOEP), Switzerland (SHP), and the UK (BHPS). In the US, short-term negative effects of divorce on the risk of poverty increase with family size, but differences vanish in the medium term. Similar trends are found in all study countries, although family size differences are larger in Germany and the US than in Australia, Switzerland, and the UK. Our findings suggest that the presence and number of children increase women’s poverty risk only temporarily. Although women with children are less likely to recuperate by means of remarriage, they are more likely to recuperate by reducing the needs of the household and increasing their labor market intensity.
Whether work and family lives became more unstable over the past decades has been debated. Most studies on life course instability focus on single countries tracing birth cohorts over time. Two recent studies benchmarked change in employment and family instability over time against cross-national differences in 14 European countries. Findings showed minor increases in employment and family instability compared to sizeable and stable cross-national differences, but were criticised for not including cohorts born past the late 1950s. We update their findings by adding over 15 additional countries and a decade of younger birth cohorts. Results still support a negligible increase in family instability, but a moderate increase in employment instability relative to consistently larger cross-national differences. Beyond previous studies our analyses show a polarization between countries with low and high family complexity. In contrast, moderately increasing employment instability seems to be a Europe-wide trend.
Lower educated individuals have less stable unions across many Western countries. This is in line with Goode’s (1962) thesis that lower educated individuals experience more economic strain and are therefore at higher risk of union dissolution. Nonetheless, micro-level evidence is weak. This may be due to a concept of strain that is too limited or due to a focus on only one partner in the union. In this study, we broadened the concept of strain to cover multiple life domains and captured its experience by both partners in a union. We used data from the longitudinal Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey (N = 47,360 union-years; 8,092 unions). Event-history mediation analysis showed that lower educated individuals experienced more strains not only in the economic domain but also in other life domains. Moreover, lower educated individuals tended to have partners who experienced more strains as well. In total, the joint experience of life strains explained 47% of the education gradient in union dissolution. These results suggest that life strains are pivotal to the stratification of family life.
Objective: Parenthood wage gaps are mapped over the life course for white, Black and Hispanic men and women by the number of children in the US.
Background: For white women, research indicates that motherhood penalties only persist over the life course if they have three or more children. It is unknown how stable parenthood wage gaps are for fathers and mothers of other racial backgrounds.
Methods: Age-specific parenthood wage gaps from ages 20-45 are estimated using data from the 1979 and 1997 National Longitudinal Studies of Youth (NLSY79 and NLSY97) and fixed effects models.
Results: Only white women with three or more children suffer an adjusted motherhood penalty at age 45. For Black and Hispanic mothers, penalties are concentrated around age 30 and then attenuate irrespective of the number of children. Fatherhood premiums are confined to very early adulthood for white men.
Conclusions: Parenthood wage gaps are concentrated in brief periods of the life course. Enduring penalties only occur for white mothers with many children and signify white women’s advantage compared to women of color in two respects: 1) the penalty occurs relative to high earnings of childless white women, which are unattainable for childless women of color, and 2) white mothers with many children enjoy higher household incomes compared to their Black and Hispanic peers, which decreases the economic pressure to earn own income.
Which privileges and constraints do members of differently empowered groups face when combining work and family? Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79), we analyze intersectional inequalities in work and family life courses at the intersection of gender and race. We focus on work-family life courses of black and white men and women from an intersectional quantitative life course perspective. Results from recent techniques in sequence analysis show a weak link between work and family lives for white men. They typically have the privilege of possibility to combine any type of family life course with any type of work career. In contrast, family formation processes tend to constrain work careers and vice versa for other groups at the intersection of gender and race. We contribute to the literature by showing the privilege of possibilities for white men and specific constraints that black and white women, and black men face when combining family and work life. Among others, findings also highlight a sizeable group of resourceful black single mothers, who hold stable middle class jobs. They often go unnoticed in previous research with a deficit orientation on a group of black early single mothers who muddle through precarious instable careers and welfare dependence that we also find in our study.
The DAISIE project explores the gendered impacts of policies and practices aimed at extending working life (EWL) in five contrasting national settings (the Czech Republic, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK), using a mixed methods research design inspired by insights from life-course and gender studies. The project addresses two significant and timely issues: labour market participation in later life and the influence of labour market and family trajectories on the experiences of older workers in different national and occupational contexts.
This report explores the issue of extending working life in the Swedish context. It begins by discussing the Swedish gender equality politics, which follows by a presentation of the pension system, pension trends and obstacles against an extended working life. The processes towards an extended working life illustrates the difficulties in implementing gender equality in practice. In the Swedish debate on raised retirement age, older women’s and men’s equal opportunity to work into old age is not identified as a core issue, although this is an essential goal of the general gender equality policy in Sweden. Nor has the gender segregated labour market been emphasised to any great extent, despite being at the heart of gender inequalities in terms of wages, pensions and sick leave and parental leave. It is further shown that the argument for an extended working life is mainly based on demographic statistics and economic arguments about the sustainability of the Swedish welfare and pension systems, while organisational factors, such as ageism and age norms in work organisations have not highlighted as a real obstacle to older people’s participation in working life. Finally, it is argued that the Swedish gender equality project also has to include the older age groups and that the question of extended working life is an example of contemporary gender equality issues.
This paper presents and discusses four different approaches to the study of how individuals’ income and education during adulthood are related to their family background. The most well-known approach, intergenerational mobility, describes how parents’ and offspring’s income or education are related to each other. The intergenerational-effect literature addresses the question how an intervention that changes parental income or education causally affects their children’s outcome. The sibling-correlation approach estimates the share of total inequality that is attributed to factors shared by siblings. This share is generally substantially higher than what is revealed by intergenerational mobility estimates. Finally, the equality-of-opportunity approach is looking for a set of factors, in the family background and otherwise, that are important for children’s outcomes and that children cannot be held accountable for. We argue that all four approaches are most informative and that recent research has provided insightful results. However, by comparing results from the different approaches, it is possible to paint a more nuanced picture of the role of family background. Thus, we recommend that scholars working in the four subfields pay more attention to each other’s research.
Individuals exposed to both job loss and marital dissolution are likely to be highly disadvantaged, having experienced stresses and losses in the two primary domains of life. Moreover, recent literature finds that exposure to one event tends to increase the risk of the other. However, next to nothing is known about the size or composition – or changes therein – of the divorced/separated and unemployed (DSU) subpopulation. Using large, nationally representative, repeated cross-sectional datasets extending back to 1984, we aim to fill this gap for the UK. We give a descriptive account of the prevalence and social distribution of DSU, and of the cross-sectional association between its two component states: among which groups, by education and gender, does being either divorced/separated or unemployed most strongly imply a heightened risk of also being the other, and how has this changed over time? We find stable and strong educational inequality in DSU, while the gender gap has narrowed and recently closed. The association between the two states is stronger among men; has weakened strikingly over the time period we consider, for both men and, especially, women; and is educationally stratified among men but not women. Contrary to expectations, higher-educated men in one of the two states are most likely to also be in the other. Possible explanations and further questions are discussed. In particular, we highlight the possibility that over this time period the divorced/separated have become more like the general population, rather than a negatively selected subgroup among whom unemployment is a particular risk.
In this report, we provide an overview of tracking, that is the choice of the type of secondary school, in Italy. First, we describe the structure of the Italian education system and its main reforms. We detail broad and curricular tracking both between and within schools. We focus on upper secondary school, since in Italy the school tracks branch at this node. Second, we use the Italian Household Longitudinal Study (IHLS) data to illustrate both the trends in educational attainment and the educational trajectories for four birth cohorts (1927-47, 1948-57, 1958-67 and 1968-77). Third, we report the pattern of association between tracking and social inequality for the 1958-67 birth cohort. Specifically, we show that parental education and social class of origin are strongly correlated to track placement. Moreover, the choice of upper secondary school is associated to the final educational attainment and the position in the labor market at occupational maturity. Furthermore, tracking mediates almost half of the association between social background and educational and labor market outcomes.