Household Influences on Employment Insecurity over the Life Course

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 4:00 PM
Room: Booth 42
Oral Presentation
Martin EHLERT , WZB Berlin Social Science Center, Berlin, Germany
Previous research on employment instability mainly focused on labor market related factors. I argue however, that employment instability over the life course is also influenced by the household a person lives in. Building on literature about the “marriage premium” and the “maternal penalty” in labor earnings, I expect that there are several mechanisms through which households shape the incidence of involuntary displacements. The household context may influence preferences toward stable jobs, impose constraints on job search, or influence employers’ hiring and layoff decisions. These mechanisms differ by gender. For example, men in male breadwinner households may have a preference for stable jobs. Mothers in couple households on the other hand, who more often have to reconcile paid work and housework are constrained in their job searches and therefore may have to take up less stable jobs. Finally, especially among men, being married may be seen as a positive signal for productivity by employers and therefore they more often obtain stable jobs. Moreover, employers may displace married men and women with children less often because they are considered more productive and also have to support a family. In sum, these considerations suggest higher employment instability among single adult households, mothers and especially single mothers. I test these expectations by comparing the risk of involuntary job loss between different household types using the German Socio Economic Panel (GSOEP). To control for selection into households, I apply discrete-time event history models.  Preliminary results indicate a higher risk of job loss among single men and to a lesser extent among single mothers. This seems to be rather driven by employer discrimination than by self-selection into unstable jobs.