The InterGenerational Transmission of Joblessness


About the IG Project

Why is joblessness disproportionally reproduced in some families more than in others and what conditions shape disparities in the transmission of family joblessness? These two questions will be at the heart of our project, which aims to examine the ‘ingredients’ – mechanisms, channels, factors – that drive joblessness from parent to child in Australia and across Europe, Asia and the United States. We argue that children deciding on whether to participate in the labour market are largely influenced by (1) the labour market dynamics of their parents and siblings, (2) the family’s practices, experiences and interaction with the tax transfer system as well as (3) the cultural values and norms about work that surround their families (i.e., family systems). These aspects, alone or in combination, differ largely across regions, change as a consequence of joblessness, and influence children’s work and welfare dynamics in highly distinct ways when they reach adulthood. Testing this “power of the family” hypothesis within a country-comparative perspective is the key focus of our project, which seeks to:


  • Map and examine underlying processes, mechanisms, and channels through which jobless families influence children’s labour force attachment during adulthood in Australia and across other countries;
  • Investigate the role of family systems (family relationships, values, and norms about work) and how these mitigate or exacerbate effects of family joblessness in Australia within an international context;
  • Investigate the role of the unemployment and tax transfer system on family joblessness in Australia and countries with comparable yet contrasting welfare systems;
  • Develop a durable data infrastructure and knowledge base that integrates, documents, and analyses a cross-national longitudinal dataset in order to generate significant new knowledge on the sources and consequences of family joblessness.



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