What has been the impact on family incomes of the changes in participation and unemployment rates experienced during the 1980s? This paper seeks to describe the overa1I and distributional impact of such changes using microsimulation methods. It is estimated that for every one percentage point increase in unemployment the average incomes of working age families will decrease by 0.75-0.85 per cent Similarly, for every one percentage point increase in the participation rate of married women aggregate incomes increase by 0.27 per cent, and the average incomes of married couples by 0.42 per cent. Since 1983-84, falling unemployment has had a slightly greater impact on family incomes than has increasing married women's participation, although for couples the increase in women's participation has been more important. Within family types, the impact of the increase in unemployment associated with the 1982-83 recession was unambiguously inequality increasing. This has been partly reversed subsequently, but the increased incomes due to participation increases have largely bypassed those married couples at the bottom end of the income distribution.