The impact of parental worklessness on children’s labour market outcomes: exploring gender and ethnicity

Publication type

Conference Paper


Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2015, 21-23 July 2015, University of Essex, Colchester, UK


Publication date

July 22, 2015


The increase of workless households and, in particular, the
consequences of having been raised in such households, has received
particular attention in the UK. Previous research shows that having been
raised in a workless household has a negative impact on a series of
outcomes, such as higher probabilities of being NEET (Not in Education,
Employment or Training) or spending longer periods out of work. However,
little is known about how men and women and different ethnic groups
differ in terms of this experience. This paper aims at filling in this
According to data from Understanding Society (2011-2012) around 6% of
individuals in the UK had workless parents when growing up. This
figure, however, rises to 9% for younger cohorts (16-35 years old), and
in particular, to values that vary between 12% and 54% for young
non-white ethnic minorities. Using the third wave of the Understanding
Society, this study sheds light on the impact that having been raised in
various household types has on labour market outcomes of young men and
women of different ethnic groups. Among other findings, we show that
gender and ethnicity are inter-related factors when studying the effect
of origin households. Considering the entire sample, we first observe
that having workless parents (vs. two-working parents) affects
negatively more the labour market outcomes of young women than those of
young men. However, while this gender effect does not seem to hold for
the white British, it does – and to a greater extent – for the non-white
ethnic minorities.





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