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Individuals are classified as unemployed if they have not worked more than one hour in the reference week; have actively looked for work in the past 4 weeks; and, are available to start work in the reference week1. People who are unemployed are less likely to have an adequate income and more likely to have poor health and wellbeing outcomes and higher stress2,3. Parental unemployment (and the related consequences for parent health) is also associated with poorer health outcomes for children such as higher rates of chronic illness, psychosomatic symptoms, and psychological problems throughout their lifespan4-6.

Unemployment is also considered an indicator of household disadvantage which is a significant risk factor for poorer health outcomes for children both in development and throughout the lifespan7,8. There are a range of socioeconomic factors that connect disadvantage to poorer health outcomes8. These include direct causes such as exposure to more pollution or poor housing, as well as more indirect pathways such as higher social acceptability of poor health behaviours including smoking, fast food consumption or violence; lower educational attainment; and greater exposure to stressors9,10.

Further, disadvantage tends to be concentrated in particular suburbs and neighbourhoods11. The accumulation of people living with fewer resources in particular geographical areas can further exacerbate disadvantage as these areas tend to have less community resources, reduced neighbourhood safety, poorer services (e.g. education, health care, public transport) and lower social cohesion11.

As unemployment is related to parent and child health it is an important factor to consider in relation to child development. Rates of unemployment can inform policy makers and services of areas where lifestyle factors and disadvantage may be having an adverse impact on child development and assist them to distribute resources appropriately.


  1. Australian Bureau of statistics [Internet]. Canberra ACT. Australian Labour Market Statistics, July 2014, cat. no. 6105.0. 2018 June 08 [cited 22 May 2018]. Available from:
  2. Mathers C, Schofield D. The health consequences of unemployment: The evidence. The Medical Journal of Australia, 1998; 168(4):178-82. Available from:
  3. Mörk E, Sjögren A, Svaleryd H. Parental unemployment and child health. CESifo Economic Studies, 2014; 60(2):366-401. Available from:
  4. Morrell S, Taylor R, Kerr C. Jobless. Unemployment and young people's health. The Medical Journal of Australia, 1998; 168(5):236-40. Available from:
  5. Christoffersen MN. A follow-up study of longterm effects of unemployment on children: Loss of self-esteem and self-destructive behavior among adolescents. Childhood, 1994; 2(4):212-20. Available from:
  6. Pedersen CR, Madsen M, Köhler L. Does financial strain explain the association between children’s morbidity and parental non-employment? Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 2005; 59(4):316-21. Available from:
  7. Tough P. Helping children succeed: What works and why [Internet]. Random House; 2016 May 26. [cited 22 May 2018]. Available from:
  8. Zubrick S, Williams A, Silburn S, Vimpani G. Indicators of Social and Family Functioning [Internet]. Commonwealth of Australia; Department of Family and Community Services. 2000 May [cited 2018 Jun 11]. Available from:
  9. Braveman P, Gottlieb L. The social determinants of health: It's time to consider the causes of the causes. Public Health Reports, 2014; 129(1):19-31. Available from:
  10. Braveman P, Barclay C. Health disparities beginning in childhood: A life-course perspective. Pediatrics, 2009; 124(Supplement 3):163-75. Available from:
  11. Pawson H, Hulse K, Cheshire L. Addressing concentrations of disadvantage in urban Australia. Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute [Internet]. Melbourne VIC. 2015 Sep 16 [cited 2018 Jun 12]. Available from:

Data Source 

Compiled by Telethon Kids Institute based on Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing.


Unemployed persons for selected age group.


Total persons for selected age group.

Unit of Measure 

Per cent (%),



Data Confidentiality

The ABS applies small random adjustments to all cell values to protect the confidentiality of data. These adjustments may cause the sum of rows or columns to differ by small amounts from the table totals.