Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2440/100355
Type: Theses
Title: Young, non-student workers in casual employment: a core-periphery examination of health outcomes
Author: Matthews, Natalie Kojima
Issue Date: 2016
School/Discipline: School of Psychology
Abstract: From the 1980s onwards, Australia has seen an increase in peripheral forms of employment such as casual employment. Unlike ‘core’ employment, which refers to work that is ongoing and full-time, and which usually confers a range of legal rights and protection, most peripheral employment is not ongoing or full-time and has fewer, or no, entitlements. The core-periphery model suggests that because of this, peripheral workers are likely to experience poorer health than core workers. This thesis tests the core-periphery model by examining if casual employment - the most common form of peripheral employment in Australia - is related to significantly different health outcomes than permanent employment. In order to add to current knowledge, this thesis examines this relationship amongst young, non-student workers only. This age-specific cohort is an important group of workers to examine because they are largely over-represented in peripheral forms of employment in Australia. Findings from the research are summarised in four manuscripts, each of which has addressed a distinct research aim/s. Study One addressed two aims. The first aim was to understand if young, non-student casual workers were more likely to experience poorer health than young, non-student permanent workers or full-time students, using cross-sectional measures. A second aim was to understand if the relationship between casual employment and health was moderated by any individual-level variables (job insecurity, job dissatisfaction, financial strain, low social support). The results found no evidence of poor health outcomes in the casually employed group or that this relationship was moderated by the aforementioned variables. The aim of Study Two was to examine the associations between different periods of exposure to casual employment and health outcomes. A three year longitudinal design was used to measure four employment paths, each which was characterised by varying periods of exposure to either casual or permanent employment in young, non-students. It was hypothesised that paths characterised by longer exposure to casual employment would result in the largest health deterioration over time. The results did not support the hypothesis as longer periods of exposure to casual employment were not found to be related to poorer health outcomes. It was argued that this might be because young people working in casual employment are at a stage-of-life where the flexibility, higher pay and skills training which is often associated with casual arrangements, are considered beneficial. Study Three aimed to understand if volition (voluntary or involuntary engagement in casual employment) could more sensitively predict health outcomes in young, non-student casual workers. This was approached within a ‘relative deprivation’ framework, where involuntary casuals were assumed to experience poorer health outcomes than voluntary casuals, or permanent employees, because of feelings of deprivation (wanting core employment and feeling as though they deserved it). However, casual employment was again found to be unrelated to health outcomes, even when casual workers disclosed that they would prefer permanent employment. Study Four interviewed 20 young, non-student casuals and utilised qualitative analysis to understand how they appraised their work and health. The findings indicated that young, casual workers experienced many of the negative pressures outlined in research based on older populations; such as underemployment, financial strain and feelings of powerlessness. However, most respondents also identified some age-specific protective factors which they felt helped them to cope with the negative pressures. These included living at home and receiving financial support from their parents, as well as perceptions that they would eventually find more secure and meaningful work in the future. Overall, this research programme did not provide strong support for the core-periphery model, which suggests that core workers should experience better health than peripheral workers. Instead, the quantitative findings indicated that the health of young, non-student casuals is no different to the health of young, non-student permanent workers. However, the qualitative study still identified some of the negative pressures associated with casual employment and the degree to which these factors led to poor health, predominantly stress. A brief discussion of why the quantitative and qualitative results did not align, are provided in the conclusion, along with some suggestions on how to regulate casual employment in Australia so as to better protect worker health.
Advisor: Delfabbro, Paul Howard
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) (Research by Publication) -- University of Adelaide, School of Psychology, 2016.
Keywords: casual
health
young
employment
core-periphery
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/legals
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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