The impacts of recessions on families

Matthew Gray*, Ben Edwards, Alan Hayes, Jennifer Baxter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Matthew Gray, Ben Edwards, Alan Hayes and Jennifer Baxter provide a broad-ranging review of the potential impacts on Australian families of the global recession. The paper begins with information on the rates of unemployment and long-term unemployment since 1980 to the present day. The authors point out that several demographic changes mean that this economic downturn will be different for families than in previous years. Women are now engaged in the labour force at much higher rates than previously and, as a consequence, there are more dualincome families. Single-parent families may be particularly vulnerable in difficult economic times, given their reliance on a single income. Surprisingly, there is little direct evidence of the effect of unemployment in economic downturns on families, but there is fairly good international evidence on the impact of unemployment on families more generally. Gray et al. summarise evidence on the scarring effect of unemployment, and the impact of unemployment on mental and physical health, crime, family functioning and children. Also discussed is the impact of economic downturns on broader contextual factors, such as the geographic concentration of unemployment and disadvantage, housing, and social exclusion. There have been some substantial falls in asset values, particularly in the stock market, and this has flowed through to superannuation balances and the authors suggest that this may have an impact on families, as older workers may delay their retirement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-14
Number of pages8
JournalFamily Matters
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


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