Determinants of Australian mothers’ employment

Determinants of Australian mothers’ employment

An analysis of lone and couple mothers

Matthew Gray, Lixia Qu, David de Vaus and Christine Millward

Research Paper No. 26 — May 2002

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While the lower rates of employment of lone mothers as compared with couple mothers has been well documented, the reasons for the employment gap are less well understood. This paper uses data from the 1996 Australian Census to analyse the factors which explain the employment gap.

The analysis reveals that the determinants of the probability of employment are generally similar for lone and couple mothers, although there are several important differences. In general, factors that are typically associated with lower rates of employment, and could be considered a barrier to employment, have a larger negative effect upon the probability of employment of lone mother than couple mothers. Importantly, it is found that the presence of children have a similar impact on the employment of lone and couple mothers.

The analysis also reveals that around one-third of the employment gap is due to differences in the characteristics of the lone and couple mothers. This gap is explained by differences in a number of characteristics. Of particular interest is that only a small amount of the employment gap explained by differences in educational attainment. The remaining two-thirds of the employment gap is caused by variables impacting on the employment rates of lone and couple mothers differently.

Authors and Acknowledgements

For comments on this paper, the authors are indebted to Robert Gregory, Lou Will, Ann Sanson, David Stanton and Peter Whiteford.

Publication details

Research Paper
No. 26
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, May 2002.
32 pp.
Suggested citation:

Gray, M., Qu, L., de Vaus, D., & Millward, C. (2002). Determinants of Australian mothers’ employment: An analysis of lone and couple mothers (Research Paper No. 26). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

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