Labour force data shows that the employment rate of women who have not-employed partners is lower than partnered women with employed partners. To help to understand why the employment rates might be lower in families with not-employed husbands, Jennifer Baxter analyses women's labour force data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey to examine whether they prefer to work, why they are not working, and their employment history.
The analysis finds that the likelihood of the wife working depends to some extent on why the husband is not working, but also finds that many women with not-employed husbands have low levels of education, lack recent work experience and have health barriers to their own employment. Of particular value is the ability to look at the dynamics of employment in families with a ot-employed husband: to see how much change there is in the employment of both partners between the waves of the survey. The data show that in some of these families – particularly those where the husband is not working because of an illness or disability – there is very little transition into employment, while there is more change in families with an unemployed husband.