On March 20, the Schubert Center hosted Dr. Mark Votruba of the Weatherhead School of Management as the final faculty discussion in the 2011-2012 Schubert Center Conversation Series, Child Well-Being in Challenging Times. Dr. Votruba spoke about his work exploring the impacts on children and families of large-scale layoffs and plant closures in Norway, using the country’s large-scale employee databases. He found that the children of displaced fathers suffered modest reductions in academic achievement and increased participation in crimes, especially in areas with weak job markets. Interestingly, these impacts occur even when fathers are able to quickly regain employment at a similar level and mother’s job loss did not affect children significantly. He suggests that the negative effect of father’s job loss may be related to the societal and psychosocial expectations of the father’s role as providing the primary income source, whereas it is potentially more acceptable for a mother to adjust to a new role at home after a job loss. He also discussed a Canadian study of job loss that found paternal job loss had lifetime economic effects on children, especially for children of lower-earning fathers.
Dr. Votruba was joined by Amy Hanauer, Executive Director of Policy Matters Ohio, and David Megenhardt, Executive Director of United Labor Agency of Ohio, for a discussion of his research. Ms. Hanauer spoke about the implications of the research in the United States, which has a smaller social “safety net” than Norway, and the policy changes that would lessen the impact of large-scale lay-offs. Mr. Megenhardt discussed his agency’s work with recently laid-off people and the challenges job-seekers face after being away from the job market for many years. A number of community members took part in the discussion, providing diverse perspectives on the issue as it relates to Northeast Ohio.