Journal of Population Research

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 203–227 | Cite as

Trends in differentials in the workforce participation of mothers with young children in Australia 2002–2008

  • Nick ParrEmail author


This paper analyses changes in the employment rates and hours worked of mothers with pre-school age children in Australia between 2002 and 2008, using data from Waves 2 to 8 of the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey, a large-scale longitudinal survey of the household population. The employment rate of mothers with young children rose considerably over the period considered. However, the hours per employed mother changed relatively little on average. There are significant differentials in the mother’s employment rate by the number and ages of children, and by mother’s education, marital status and birthplace. Hours worked per employed mother vary with the mother’s age, education, marital status and birthplace, by the youngest child’s age, and the number of children under five. The paper pays particular attention to the change in these differentials over time. It finds the change over time for the mother’s employment rate varies significantly by the number of children, while for the hours worked it varies by mother’s education and marital dissolution, and the age of the youngest child. The implications of these patterns are discussed.


Labour force participation Employment Hours worked Fertility Mothers Australia Families Population policy 



An earlier version of this paper was presented to the 15th Biennial Conference of the Australian Population Association in Surfers Paradise, Queensland 30 November-3 December 2010. This paper uses unit record data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. The HILDA Project was initiated and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) and is managed by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (Melbourne Institute). The findings and views reported in this paper, however, are those of the author and should not be attributed to either FaHCSIA or the Melbourne Institute. The author wishes to thank Amy Lo for assistance in preparing the figures and tables and an anonymous reviewer for comments received.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science & Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Workforce Futures Centre, Department of Marketing and Management, Faculty of Business and EconomicsMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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