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Siddiqi, Arjumand A.; Subramanian, S. V.; Berkman, Lisa; Hertzman, Clyde; & Kawachi, Ichiro (2007). The Welfare State as a Context for Children's Development: A Study of the Effects of Unemployment and Unemployment Protection on Reading Literacy Scores. International Journal of Social Welfare, 16(4), 314-325.


Data were analysed from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) to examine whether the relationship between parental unemployment status and child reading literacy is modified by the level of unemployment protection provided by the nation. The sample consisted of 61,946 children, nested in 3,918 schools among 17 market economies. The results of multi-level analyses indicated that, after controlling for a range of individual, family and school covariates, children with unemployed fathers in all countries had significantly lower reading literacy scores than those of employed fathers (? = -8.84, SE = 2.01). The contextual effect of unemployment protection was not significant after accounting for fathers' employment status (? = -18.63, SE = 16.26). However, there was a significant negative interaction between unemployment protection and fathers' unemployment, yielding the unexpected suggestion that, in countries with higher levels of unemployment protection, children with unemployed fathers fare worse, both in relation to children with unemployed fathers in lower protection countries, and in comparison with children with employed fathers (? = -26.96, SE = 8.08). Possible explanations are advanced for this result, including the potential for a 'discouraged child effect' arising from the potential association between unemployment protection and higher local unemployment rates (though unemployment rates at the national level were not significant).


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

International Journal of Social Welfare


Siddiqi, Arjumand A.
Subramanian, S. V.
Berkman, Lisa
Hertzman, Clyde
Kawachi, Ichiro