The impact of parental employment and unemployment on children and young people -PhD thesis-

Publication type

Thesis/Degree/Other Honours


Publication date

June 1, 2007


Over recent decades there have been dramatic changes in the employment patterns of men and women, with particularly significant increases in employment rates among mothers. Government policy has also increasingly given attention to encouraging parents, particularly lone mothers, into work, with a focus on paid work as a defence against poverty. These trends and policy changes affect the everyday lives of both parents and children, and give rise to questions about the potential impact that parental employment patterns have on children and young people.

The main aim of this thesis was to investigate any relationships between patterns of parental employment and young peopleâÃ?€Ã?™s educational and emotional well-being. Using data from the British Household Panel Survey and its associated Youth Panel, logistic regression techniques were used to assess the association between parental employment patterns and a number of outcomes.

A forms of capital (Bourdieu, 1983) approach was adopted to contextualise and explain the relationships between parental employment patterns and outcomes for young people. The main conclusions are that parental employment and unemployment impact upon young peopleâÃ?€Ã?™s outcomes in a number of ways, with different mechanisms observed for different outcomes. Young people living in a currently workless household were more likely to have poorer educational outcomes (truancy, leaving school at age 16), operating through the impact on family socio-economic circumstances (financial capital). Maternal part-time employment appeared to offer young people some protection against poor emotional well-being, operating through a mechanism of social capital. The influence of parental employment patterns on the formation of educational attitudes and expectations appeared to operate through a mechanism of cultural norms and expectations (cultural capital). Understanding the impact of parental employment patterns on outcomes for adolescents, using this recent data source, offers a key contribution to the literature and to policy debates.






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