Facs research news no 8 June 2001

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The Parenting Payment Longitudinal Survey (PPLS) explored the impact of Parenting Payment (partnered) (PPP) on families.

The PPLS consisted of three phases conducted from 1996 to 1999. The survey was conducted in a period in which there were no significant changes to the payment. Initially, it included two samples: parents receiving Parenting Allowance in July 1996 and partnered parents with dependent children under 16 years but not receiving Parenting Allowance in July 1996. These samples were topped up in the third phase using criteria for sample selection similar to the initial selections. An additional sample of parents who commenced on Parenting Allowance/Parenting Payment (partnered) over the survey period was also included.

The third phase provided information on the risk and success factors influencing parents’ economic and social participation. Preliminary results were published in FaCS Research News, No.4, June 2000.
Indicators of risks of long term joblessness
PPP respondents who had not done paid work for several years, when compared with those with more recent work experience:

  • were more set in their parenting role and less inclined to see themselves as likely to combine parenting with paid work;

  • had a low incidence of job search, study or training;

  • had a low incidence of contact with the Jobs Employment and Training (JET) scheme or the Job Network; and

  • had a low expectation of finding paid work.

While older recipients with older children tended to have been out of the workforce for longer, there was also a group of younger respondents with younger children who had never worked. Longer time out of the workforce was associated with leaving secondary school early, being in public housing, having a larger family or speaking a language other than English in the home.
Respondents in workless PPP families, compared with respondents in families with work, were more likely to have out-of-date work experience and were, accordingly, more disadvantaged with lower workforce aspirations. They were more likely to have partners whose last job was labouring or unskilled work and shorter in duration than for currently working partners. Where their partner had not worked for three years, respondents commonly had added caring responsibilities because of their partner's poor health.
Those who left PPP and did not have paid work were in the main similarly disadvantaged. The majority were on income support because they had separated from a partner or because their partner was not working. For 30 per cent their youngest child had turned 16 and they no longer qualified for PPP. There was evidence of substantial churning between Parenting Payment (single) and Parenting Payment (partnered) for this group.
Indicators of employment participation
Those who left the payment to take up work, compared with those continuing on payment without paid work:

  • had older children, with their youngest child of primary school age;

  • were more flexible in their parenting role and had a stronger sense of workforce identity;

  • were more positive in their attitudes to the workforce and more likely to have preferred to work and expected to seek work prior to taking up work;

  • were more likely to have recent work experience;

  • were more likely to be studying and training;

  • were more likely to be using childcare;

  • had similar low level contact with JET and the Job Network; and

  • were more likely to have a working partner.

The main reason for working was financial.
Further information: Carole Heyworth, Participation Policy Branch on (02) 6244 7477 or email carole.heyworth@facs.gov.au
Customer participation survey: an update
In the first edition of the FaCS Research News (August 1999), a summary of findings from the 1998 Customer Participation Survey on participation of workforce-age income support recipients in a range of economic and social activities was reported.

The activities of interest were classified as economic participation (including paid work, self-employment, job search and study) and social participation (unpaid community activity and care of children and/or adults with disability).

This article provides an overview of a particular aspect or ‘slice’ of the survey data   about how the patterns of economic and social participation among income support recipients vary by age.
For the analysis, four age groups are used: 18 to 24 years; 25 to 39 years; 40 to 49 years; and 50 years and over. These age groups reflect broad stages in the life cycle, which are closely associated with specific activities and life events. For example, young people aged 18 to 24 are generally establishing their independence from their parents and entering the labour force. People of prime working age (25 to 49 years) are establishing their careers and forming and rearing their own families. Between 50 and 64 years, in most families, children leave home, there may be more demands from elderly parents and people adjust to their own ageing and prepare for retirement. Findings from the survey on rates of participation in economic and social activities revealed differences between the age groups that were consistent with this life stage framework (see Table 1). These data show that the level of participation in economic activities declined with age while participation in volunteer work and providing care for adults increased with age.

Overall, the economic participation rate for people aged 18 to 24 was 57 percentage points higher than that of 50 to 64 year olds (86 per cent, against 29 per cent). The higher rate of economic participation among young people was strongly influenced by their much higher rate of job search and a greater propensity to study. Young people were also considerably more likely than their older counterparts to have reported participation in economic, but not in social, activities.

Participation in the workforce (paid work and self-employment) was highest among people of prime working age (25 to 49 years). Social participation was also most prevalent among this group, because they were the most likely to be caring for dependent children. People aged 25 to 39 were much more likely than people of mature working age and were twice as likely as young people to have engaged in social participation (74 per cent, against 55 and 37 per cent, respectively).

The mature working age group (50 to 64 year olds) demonstrated reduced participation in economic activities generally and in child care and higher rates of participation in volunteer work and adult care compared with their younger counterparts. Other data show that many people in this group report being too old to work and/or having poor health as major barriers to economic participation.

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