Journal article

Neoliberalism, economic restructuring and policy change: precarious housing and precarious employment in Australia

Economic development Economics Economic indicators Housing Employment Income Welfare state Social issues Australia

Housing, employment and economic conditions in many nations have changed greatly over the past decades. This paper explores the ways in which changing housing markets, economic conditions and government policies have affected vulnerable individuals and households, using Australia as a case study. The paper finds a substantial number and proportion of low income Australians have been affected by housing and employment that is insecure with profound implications for vulnerability. Importantly, the paper suggests that in Australia the economic gains achieved as a consequence of mining-related growth in the early 2000s were translated as greater employment security for some on low incomes, but not all. Enhanced access to employment in this period was differentiated by gender, with women largely missing out on the growth in jobs. For the population as a whole, employment gains were offset by increased housing insecurity as accommodation costs rose. The paper finds low income lone parents were especially vulnerable because they were unable to benefit from a buoyant labour market over the decade 2000–2010. They were also adversely affected by national policy changes intended to encourage engagement with paid work. The outcomes identified for Australia are likely to have been mirrored in other nations, especially those that have embraced, or been forced to adopt, more restrictive welfare and income support regimes.

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