Contingent Employment and Labour Market Pathways: Bridge or Trap?

Duncan McVicar, Mark Wooden, Inga Lass, Yin-King Fok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
130 Downloads (Pure)


The debate over whether contingent (and typically more precarious) employment acts as a bridge to permanent employment, or as a trap, has tended to focus on transitions rather than longer-run pathways. This approach cannot accurately identify indirect pathways from contingent to permanent employment or ‘trap’ pathways involving short spells in other states. It also fails to distinguish between those experiencing contingent employment as a ‘blip’ and those with longer spells. This article employs a different approach involving sequence analysis. Exploiting longitudinal data for Australia, evidence for the co-existence of pathways that correspond to ‘bridge’ and ‘trap’ characterizations of contingent employment is found. Further, in the case of casual employment—the most common form of contingent employment in Australia—these two types of labour market pathways are roughly equally prevalent, although for women and those with low educational attainment ‘traps’ are more likely than ‘bridges’.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Sociological Review
Early online date01 Dec 2018
Publication statusEarly online date - 01 Dec 2018


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