Examining the Role of Demographic Change in the Decline in Male Employment in Australia: A Propensity Score Re-weighting Decomposition Approach

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 24/09

Date: September 2009


David Black
Yi-Ping Tseng
Roger Wilkins


Using Australian data spanning the period 1981 to 2001, we apply a propensity score reweighting decomposition approach to investigate the extent to which the large decline in the male employment-population rate over this period can be attributed to changes in sociodemographic characteristics. We find that changes in observed characteristics account for little of the aggregate decline. However, changes in characteristics are found to be important for population sub-groups. In particular, changes in partner status and partner employment status have acted to decrease employment rates of younger males, but increase employment rates of older males. A further finding is that, holding observed characteristics constant, there has been a very large decline in the employment rate of 55-64 year olds with bachelor degree qualifications. In the course of applying the decomposition method, we illustrate that validity of inferences depends on ‘appropriate’ specification of the re-weighting function.

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