Evidence of the added-worker and discouraged-worker effects in Australia

Andrew Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Gross flow data for workers moving between the states of employment, unemployment and non-participation in Australia can be used to analyse the likelihood of workers transitioning between the three states in different phases of the business cycle. We use correlation analysis and a SVAR model to determine the cyclicality of state transition rates and use these results to characterise labour force inflows and outflows as being consistent in aggregate with either the discouraged-worker effect (DWE) or the added-worker effect (AWE). We find evidence that the AWE is dominant in transitions in both directions between unemployment and non-participation which contributes to a rise in unemployment during economic contractions. We also find that the DWE is dominant in transitions from non-participation to employment and that this drives the overall result that non-participation rises during a contraction. This means that the overall participation rate is procyclical. It is important to understand the cyclical influences on labour force participation and its interaction with unemployment before framing policy responses which seek to reduce labour market slack.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)472-488
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Review of Applied Economics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2018


  • Labour force participation
  • Gross worker flows
  • Added-worker effect
  • Discouraged-worker effect


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