An examination of the influence of labour demand of the growth of part-time employment in Great Britain, 1951-1984.

  • John Wallace

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Since 1951 the creation of approximately 4 million part-time jobs has been the only source of employment growth in Great Britain. Part-time employment, defined as regular work for not more than 30 hours per week, is concentrated amongst married women, in low-paid occupations and in service sector industries. This thesis examines the influence of employers' demands for labour on the growth of part-time employment, which has been hitherto investigated almost exclusively in the context of economic and social aspects of female labour supply. The increasing utilisation of part-time labour has been responsible for raising the rate of female labour force participation above a level which had remained unchanged since the mid-nineteenth century, and has more than offset the loss of 1 3/4 million jobs in manufacturing, agriculture and mining during the last thirty years. Part-time employment has therefore been instrumental in the transfer of labour resources necessary to the process of restructuring an economy in the advanced stages of industrial development. The research involved comprehensive analyses of the macro employment statistics pertaining to the British economy since 1881, and in-depth empirical research undertaken over the past five years, into the utilisation of full-time and part-time labour at organisational and establishment level in manufacturing and service industries. Workers entering part-time employment have for the most part been recruited by extending the supply of female labour. Expansion of the service sector has not provided sufficient suitable employment for those displaced from declining industries in the primary and secondary sectors of the economy, as part-time jobs offer neither the occupations, hours of work nor the earnings associated with the established structures of employment in these industries. Even the most optimistic forecasts of economic growth do not anticipate a return to previous levels of full-time employment. Future employment policies must be based on cognisance of the fundamental changes which have taken place in the patterns of employers' labour requirements in the more labour-intensive service industries.
Date of Award1985
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath

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