Activation Policies and Job Quality Among Lone Mothers in the UK

Thursday, 19 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Amanda SHEELY, London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom
Kate SUMMERS, London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom
Since the 1990s across Europe and North America, there has an increased policy focus on encouraging lone mothers to work. At present, In the United Kingdom, lone parents with children over the age of five can only get financial assistance if they agree to engage in job search and can receive financial penalties if they do not do so. Activation strategies for lone mothers are often justified with the statement that employment will improve the lives of mothers and children. However, these policies may not have fully accounted for the types of jobs these mothers obtain. Using data from Understanding Society, a longitudinal survey of around 40,00 households in the United Kingdom, this article will assess how activation policies have changed the quality of employment of lone mothers with children. We build on the current literature by moving beyond overall employment rates to consider both between- and within-work instability. Additionally, to ensure that differences in employment quality are due to activation and not unobserved individual characteristics, we use a modeling strategy that combines propensity score matching with difference-in-difference estimation. Initial results suggest that activation policies do lead to increases in employment. However, mothers also report lower job satisfaction.