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For some time now work participation statistics in Australia have confronted us with the apparent prolongation of the disadvantages experienced by some parents in the lives of their offspring.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS, 1994) data has indicated that young people whose parents are not in work have lower labour force participation rates and higher unemployment rates than young people with at least one parent at work.1 More recently, information gathered from a group of jobseekers showed that young people with one or both parents in work were significantly more likely to have found stable employment over a one-year period than young people whose parents were not in work (ABS, 1998).2 It is the meaning of this type of pattern that is explored in this paper and an attempt is made to estimate the extent, the medium and cost of the passage of disadvantage from one generation to the next.

This is the fifth of a series of commissioned papers on social inclusion/exclusion, prepared for the Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations by Professor Tony Vinson, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney. August, 2008.

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