The Impact of Non-Standard Employment on the Financial Well-Being of Australian Families

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Inga LASS, University of Melbourne, Australia
Mark WOODEN, University of Melbourne, Australia
In OECD comparison, Australia stands out as a country with a particularly high share of non-standard employment, including casual work, fixed-term contracts and temporary agency work. While the literature so far has focused on the immediate consequences of these employment types on wages, little is known about whether and in which cases non-standard employment translates into financially precarious household conditions. Yet this question is of crucial importance considering the large impact of income (and poverty) on various life chances of both workers and their families.
From a theoretical perspective, the household context is a mediator which can both attenuate or aggravate the impact of low or unreliable individual earnings on financial well-being, depending e.g. on other sources of income and the number of dependents. Considering the dominance of the modified male breadwinner model in Australia, non-standard employment might have a larger impact on the financial situation if taken over by men (as designated primary earners) than women (as secondary earners).
On this background, the paper analyses the financial situation of non-standard workers’ families. To what extent are non-standard workers sole, primary or secondary earners in their families? Do most non-standard workers live with standard workers or does non-standard employment accumulate in the family context? How does it affect family financial well-being, i.e., overall family income, poverty risk and satisfaction with the financial situation? To what extent do the results differ by employment type and by gender? The paper applies longitudinal analyses to data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey (2001-2015).
Despite the mediating impact of the household context, the study finds a negative effect of non-standard employment on family financial well-being compared to standard employment, both for male and female workers. The results thus call for policy conclusions improving the financial situation of non-standard workers.