Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System

Contact Information

UW-Madison Research & Sponsored Programs
21 N Park Street, Suite 6401
Madison, WI 53715 - 1218
(608) 263-5146
FY 2017 National Service and Civic Engagement Research

Executive Summary

This study examines the relationship between labor market integration and civic participation. Previous studies have focused on civic impacts of unemployment but paid less attention to other labor market states such as underemployment or discouraged worker. They also take a static approach that link labor market states to civic participation. These assumptions are problematic in the age of "precarious labor" and declining labor force participation in which the dichotomy of employment and unemployment fails to capture the reality of labor markets. This study expands on previous studies to better understand the dynamic relationship between labor market and civic life in changing labor market environments.

First, we conceptualize labor market integration as a continuum and broaden the investigation to include a wide range of labor market states, highlighting heterogeneities among the employed and non-employed. Second, we take a dynamic approach that link transitions in labor market states to flows into and out of civic activity. Third, we consider civic effects of both short-term transitions and long-term labor market trajectories. Fourth, we study civic effects of labor market transitions in the context of other life course events. Finally, we examine spatial variations in labor force participation and explore how local civic contexts affect individual labor supply decisions in challenging local labor markets.

Our preliminary analysis of the Current Population Survey (CPS) panel data already shows some novel findings that contradict conventional wisdoms and imply more complex relationships between labor market and civic participation. We build on these findings and expand our analyses using both the CPS and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Our analyses will shed light on civic implications of "precarious labor" and declining labor force participation and help to understand why the labor force participation has been in decline among the prime working-age population.

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