Australian mothers' participation in employment

Australian mothers' participation in employment

Analyses of social, demographic and family characteristics using the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey

Research Paper No. 52 — November 2013
Australian mothers' participation in employment

In 2009-10, almost two-thirds of Australian mothers of children aged under 15 years were employed. This employment rate remains below that of many other OECD countries, indicating that there may be potential for increases in maternal employment in Australia.

This paper explores the characteristics of employed and non-employed mothers, to identify the factors that contribute to differing employment levels.

Using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, it examines birth and work history, labour force characteristics, socio-demographic characteristics (e.g., education, number and age of children, and health status), and self-perceptions and values among lone and couple mothers.

In particular, it examines whether non-employment is due to a preference to be at home or due to barriers to employment imposed by personal or family characteristics. 

This paper explores the characteristics of employed and non-employed mothers, to identify the factors that contribute to differing employment levels

Key messages

the importance of caring for children by the many mothers who remain out of employment;

significant factors such as having long-term health conditions and other caring responsibilities, are more common among mothers with lower levels of engagement in paid work;

mothers' values about work—family issues are strongly related to employment outcomes; and

non-employed mothers with older children, and lone mothers who are not employed seem to have the greatest barriers to employment as indicated by characteristics such as education and health status.

Authors and Acknowledgements

Dr Jennifer Baxter is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies.


This paper uses unit record data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. The HILDA project was initiated and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) and is managed by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (Melbourne Institute).

This publication is an update of a report prepared with funding from FaHCSIA.

Disclaimer

The findings and the interpretation of the data, as reported in this paper, are those of the author and should not be attributed to the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), FaHCSIA, or the Melbourne Institute.

Publication details

Research Paper
No. 52
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, November 2013.
52 pp.
ISSN: 
1446-9871
ISBN: 
978-1-922038-35-7

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