LCC Working Paper Series: 2015-22

Authors

Deborah Cobb-Clark and Anna Zhu

Non-technical Summary

People who become homeless as a child are more likely to have lower employment rates in adulthood than those who become homeless later. Our research, using the Journey’s Home survey, found by the time they are adults, those who are first homeless after the age of 15 years have an employment rate of 24%. But those who become homeless at or before the age of 15 have an employment rate of just 10%.

Interestingly, those who first become homeless during the teenage years of 15 and 16 years have the worst outcomes. Homeless children and adolescents tend to have very different life paths from those who become homeless later. We also found differences by gender.

For women, those who become homeless as a child are more likely to drop out of high school than those who become homeless later in life. In fact, nearly half of the employment gap between those who were homeless in childhood versus later in life is related to dropping out of high school. It is the most important factor – and a potential milestone in the path from childhood homelessness to unemployment (or being out of the labour force) in adulthood. Welfare receipt in general and specifically for mental illness-related disability payments also account for a large percentage of the employment gap.

For men, dropping out of high school also plays an important role in accounting for the employment gap between those who were homeless in childhood versus later in life. Incarceration between the ages of 17 and 20 years old (inclusive) also plays a role, albeit a smaller one. However, unlike for women, welfare receipt matters little in explaining the employment gap. It’s likely this gendered difference in the results is related to the strong relationship between child bearing and welfare receipt.

This non-technical summary is based on a piece published in The Conversation. Find the full story here: https://theconversation.com/childhood-homelessness-makes-for-adult-unemployment-study-48887

Published

October 20, 2015