THE DECLINE IN MALE EMPLOYMENT IN AUSTRALIA: A COHORT ANALYSIS

Authors


Roger Wilkins, Principal Research Fellow and HILDA Survey Deputy Director (Research), Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010. r.wilkins@unimelb.edu.au.

Abstract

We use Census data to investigate the sources of the decline in the level of employment of working age males in Australia in recent decades. Alternative measures of the male employment rate are considered before settling on two complementary measures: the full-time employment rate and the full-time equivalent employment rate. The latter measure weights part-time jobs according to the fraction of a full-time job they represent. Models of the determinants of these two employment rates are estimated using data from the Censuses conducted between 1971 and 2001. We construct a pseudo panel by ‘stacking’ the seven Census data sets (Deaton, 1997; Kapteyn, et al., 2005). This facilitates the tracing of birth cohorts over time, in turn making it possible to control for cohort unobserved heterogeneity that may bias cross-sectional estimates of effects of other characteristics, in particular age and year/time period. We produce evidence that a number of factors have contributed to the decline in male employment, including the decline in couple households with dependent children, growth in income taxes and welfare replacement rates and changes in the structure of labour demand away from traditionally male-dominated industries. We also find that, all else (observable) constant, more recent birth cohorts have no lower – and possibly higher – employment rates than earlier birth cohorts.

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