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1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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Family

Children without an employed parent(a)(b)
Graph Image for Children without an employed parent(a)(b)

Footnote(s): (a) Children aged under 15 years. (b) Year ending 30 June. Data has been interpolated for 1999, 2002, 2005 and 2007.

Source(s): ABS data available on request, Survey of Income and Housing

CHILDREN WITHOUT AN EMPLOYED PARENT

Children living without an employed parent in their household may experience financial hardship, and their resident parents' joblessness may affect their long-term personal development.

After rising to 18% in the late 1990s, the proportion of children living without an employed parent in their household subsequently declined to 13% by 2007-08.

In 2007-08, 509,000 children lived without an employed parent in their household, and just under two-thirds (65%) of these children lived with one parent. In over half (58%) of these one parent households, the youngest child was aged under five.

Most children who do not live with an employed parent do live in households where no other person is employed. However, some children may live in households where only other related or unrelated people may be working. These employed people may contribute to the child's economic wellbeing by, for example, contributing to shared living costs. They may also offer a role model for the child in terms of work ethic and social responsibility. In 2007-08, around 14% of families without an employed parent lived in households where someone else was employed. Most of these families (around 82%) were one parent families (ABS 2009a).

While studies point to a higher incidence of poor outcomes for children from jobless households, results do not suggest simple causal relationships. There are complex interactions between a child's inherited capabilities, the care they receive, their role models, education, health, and income, and while adverse childhood experiences may increase the risk of longer term disadvantage, such experiences do not necessarily result in adverse outcomes.

Longer term adverse effects on children are likely to be greater if the period of parental or household joblessness is extended, and may differ depending on circumstances. For example, if a parent is studying rather than working, the role model for the child is positive and the household's economic wellbeing may improve later on.

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