Patterns of non-employment, and of disadvantage, in a recession

Publication type

Conference Paper


Department for Work and Pensions


Publication date

November 9, 2009


There has been much commentary on the likely consequences of the current recession for the living standards of British households. This article aims to contribute to the live debate about the current recession in the UK by analysing the impact of the recessions of the early 1980s and 1990s on nonemployment patterns among people in the main range of working ages and the possible consequences if the effects observed in earlier business cycles were to be repeated now. The article uses a series of General Household Surveys over a 32 year period to show, first, the impact of cyclical factors on overall patterns of non-employment (including mothers and disabled people, as well as the unemployed), and second, which social groups are most affected. A key question is whether types of people who are already disadvantaged are especially sensitive to a downturn.

Related Publications



Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest