Unemployment and Life-History: A Pilot Study

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This Report describes the preliminary findings of a larger study being conducted to examine the life-long effects of unemployment. In the main study, a comparison will be made between two groups of men born in Australia between 1905 and 1917, who survived the depression of the 1930s in South Australia. One group experienced unemployment, while the other had stable work throughout the period. We will ask who became unemployed and who escaped unemployment; how did the unemployed cope; and above all, what happened to them subsequently. Was there a process of cumulative disadvantage, whereby those who were already most vulnerable were the ones who experienced unemployment, which then locked them out of later job-opportunities, worsened their health, and left them psychologically scarred? This was certainly the expectation with which we began the project twelve months ago. In this Report, we describe how, half-way through our programme of interviews, we are having second thoughts about that initial expectation. At this half-way stage, we are not finding the kind of cumulative disadvantage that we had anticipated. Does this mean simply that the world is not as we had expected, or is it rather a matter of our findings being biased by our methodology? Our attempts to answer that question form the central focus of the study. The Report is in three sections: a literature review; a description of the preliminary empirical findings; a discussion of the methodology to be followed in the major study.
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Travers, Peter
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download Reports and Proceedings No 30.pdf 3.52 MB Adobe Portable Document Format
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