Households’ responses to spousal job loss: ‘all change’ or ‘carry on as usual’?
Economic theory suggests that when a primary earner within a couple loses their job, one potential response is for the secondary earner to seek additional paid work to bolster their household finances. The empirical quantitative evidence regarding any such ‘added worker effect’ is mixed, and, to investigate why this might be, the article explores processes behind couples’ responses to job loss. Drawing on in-depth qualitative interviews conducted with a purposive sample selected from the Understanding Society Innovation Panel, the analysis
examines: (a) anticipation surrounding job loss and job search responses; (b) the extent to which couples adopt long- or short-term labour
market perspectives; and (c) whether couples seek to preserve their established division of paid and unpaid labour or re-configure
their joint labour supply. Findings indicate that the use of additional spousal labour is only one response among many alternatives and it is typically invoked in cases of serious financial hardship.
Work, Employment and Society
Volume and page numbers
29 , 703 -719
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