Impacts of deindustrialisation on the labour market and beyond

Webster, David Frederic (2010) Impacts of deindustrialisation on the labour market and beyond. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The 16 publications included in this thesis are the results of a programme of research between 1993 and 2009 into the labour market and labour market-related impacts of the large-scale spatially concentrated losses of industrial jobs in Great Britain from the 1970s to the 1990s. The British conventional wisdom has been that labour market recovery was relatively quick, and that the effects were not particularly profound. Continuing labour market distress was mainly ascribed to labour ‘supply-side’ factors rather than to locally deficient labour demand. The research challenges these views. It draws particularly on the British Keynesian tradition, and on authors such as J. F. Kain, John Kasarda and William Julius Wilson from the USA, which experienced similar job losses around a decade earlier. Issues covered include the statistical measurement and spatial variation of unemployment and related economic disadvantage, unemployment disguised as sickness, long-term unemployment, migration and lone parenthood, and there is also analysis of policies on employment and social inclusion.

The research shows that ‘Travel-to-Work Areas’ (TTWAs) do not correctly identify the employment ‘fields’ of residents of areas of high unemployment. They have biased errors due to imbalance between commuting inflows and outflows, and obscure the main variation in unemployment on the urban-rural dimension. Three papers on Incapacity Benefit (IB) analyse the dynamics of change in the stock of claimants, investigating the roles played by health status and labour market conditions. The most recent of these papers examines whether the striking fall in IB claims in Glasgow and other former industrial areas in 2003-08 was the result of official interventions or of improving labour market conditions, concluding that it was mainly the latter.

A key ‘supply-side’ assumption was that being unemployed in itself makes people less ‘employable’ – the theory of ‘state-dependence’. The paper on long-term unemployment radically challenges this interpretation. It points out that the literature on the relationship between long-term and short-term unemployment has generally failed to consider the appropriate time-lags or the behaviour of the standard measure of long-term unemployment. It shows that the phenomenon which the theory of state-dependence purports to explain does not occur to any significant extent.

Outmigration and housing abandonment are significant effects of local job loss. The paper on housing abandonment demonstrates a statistical relationship across England in 1997 between social housing surplus and ‘real unemployment’, while a further paper challenges the view that there was no longer a deficiency of demand for labour in Glasgow and the Clyde Valley in the 1990s by investigating migration patterns. It demonstrates that net flows between individual Scottish areas and the rest of the UK were to a substantial extent determined by changes in labour demand. A new finding is that little adjustment to employment change occurs through migration within Scotland.

The large increase in lone parenthood in Great Britain since the 1960s has been strongly correlated across areas with male worklessness. The US literature suggested that this relationship is causal, and this thesis is investigated in two papers. The earlier of these was the first comprehensive published application of this interpretation to the modern British case. A further paper concludes that falling male employment accounted for around half the rise in lone parenthood in Great Britain in 1971-2001.

Two of the papers present a comprehensive picture of the geographical distributions of the different groups of disadvantaged people in the labour market, showing that they all conform to a similar pattern which in turn is related to deficient labour demand.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: This thesis comprises an explanatory essay and 16 papers which have been published elsewhere.
Keywords: Unemployment, long-term unemployment, worklessness, economic inactivity, Incapacity Benefit, migration, lone parenthood, employment policy, social inclusion.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Supervisor's Name: Turok, Professor Ivan
Date of Award: 2010
Depositing User: David Webster
Unique ID: glathesis:2010-1720
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2010
Last Modified: 18 May 2022 11:05
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