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CEP discussion paper
Two Sides to Every Story: Measuring the Polarisation of Work
Paul Gregg and Jonathan Wadsworth
May 2004
Paper No' CEPDP0632:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: C1; J0; J6

Tags: workless households; distribution of work; polarisation; joblessness

Individual and household based aggregate measures of joblessness can, and do, offer conflicting signals about labour market performance if work is unequally distributed. This paper introduces a simple set of indices that can be used to measure the extent of divergence between individual and household-based jobless measures. The indices, built around a comparison of the actual household jobless rate with that which would occur if work were randomly distributed over the working age population, conform to basic consistency axioms and can be decomposed to try to identify the likely source of any disparity between nonemployment rates calculated at the 2 levels of aggregation. Applying these measures to data for Britain, we show that there has been a growing disparity ¿ polarisation - between the individual and household based jobless measures that are largely unrelated to changes in household structure or the principal characteristics associated with individual joblessness.