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Interactions between crime and fertility in the labour supply of Indigenous Australian women

Women Crime Aboriginal Australians Labour force Australia

Indigenous Australian females are under-represented in the Australian labour force and in employment. According to the Population Census of 2006, 49 per cent of Indigenous females were in the labour force compared with 58 per cent of other Australian females. The unemployment rate for Indigenous Australian females was almost three times the rate for other Australian females, 15.4 per cent compared with 5.3 per cent. An understanding of the reasons for the poor labour market performance of Indigenous females is an important first step in improving the economic status of this disadvantaged group of Australians. This paper uses data from a survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (conducted between August 2002 and April 2003), to consider possible determinants of labour force status for Indigenous females. The survey enables us to use two potentially significant determinants of labour force status that are not available together from other sources—indicators of fertility and the interaction with the criminal justice system. Our estimates show that high levels of fertility and having been arrested have a negative effect on the probability of participation for Indigenous females. The paper concludes with some policy recommendations for raising the level of participation among Indigenous Australian females.

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