Youth education decisions and job-search behaviour in Australia
This thesis uses Australian unit-record data to examine two important aspects of labour supply behaviour. The first part of this thesis examines the participation decisions of Australian teenagers. Traditionally, the decision of whether to complete school or enter the labour force has been explained using personal characteristics, such as age and gender, and family background characteristics, such as parents' education. Chapter 2 extends this framework to consider whether neighbourhood characteristics provide information about these participation decisions over and above personal and family background characteristics. The results suggest that neighbourhood effects are present. Also within this framework, Chapter 3 considers whether government policy initiatives, designed to increase the proportion of Australian teenagers completing high school, achieved this aim. Again, the results suggest that this extension increases our understanding of teenage participation decisions. The second part of this thesis investigates two aspects of job-search behaviour. Chapter 4 examines the factors that affect how teenagers look for work. An equilibrium search model is developed to explain why local labour market conditions may be important. The empirical analysis supports the model's implication that teenagers in high unemployment areas are more likely to use general search methods, such as a newspapers or employment agencies, which appear to be less successful on average. Chapter 5 considers whether reservation wage information helps to explain the unemployment duration of the individuals in a sample that covers a wider cross-section of the Australian labour market. Despite the importance of this variable in job-search models, it does not appear to explain unemployment duration experiences once background characteristics and previous labour market experience has been controlled for.