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Melbourne Institute: Sons’ Unexpected Long-term Scarring Due To Fathers’ Unemployment

This research paper from the Melbourne Institute focuses on the long term effects of unemployment on subjective wellbeing in a family context for 17-24 year old sons living with at least one parent.

University Of Melbourne


The effect on the son's wellbeing is affected by how and why the father came into unemployment...

Job loss and unemployment create difficulties in both individuals and the families who rely on the income that a job would or used to bring into the household.

This study examines the effect on sons as they experience their fathers' unemployment and the long-run costs that are associated with parental unemployment.

Parental Unemployment And Its Effects On Sons

For sons aged 17-24, there is a considerable impact on their own wellbeing when their father enters unemployment. At this age, this comes at a time when sons are forming views and perceptions of the workplace and how work integrates with their own lives.

The actual extent of the negative effect on the son's wellbeing, however, is affected by how and why the father came into unemployment. There is a greater adverse effect when the father is made redundant or the company closes (termed involuntary unemployment) than if the father is fired (partly involuntary unemployment).

The basis for this is perhaps related to the level of control over actions leading to unemployment and the ability to attribute reasons for becoming unemployed to one's own behaviours.

Implications For Male Health

In the current climate of significant closure of companies and redundancy of staff, it would be expected that increased adverse effects on young men's health may become more evident.

This means that managing the effects of unemployment in families has to recognise potential impacts on sons, especially if they are shortly transitioning from school and study into the workplace.

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