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The Employment Instability, Family Well-being, and Social Policy Network (EINet) provides a venue for scholars and professionals to interact, collaborate, and develop new research infrastructure to better understand the causes and consequences of employment instability.  EINet is particularly concerned with promoting research about instability in the low-wage labor market and its effects on family well-being. The network is funded by and housed in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.

EINet has three primary aims:

  1. To improve the conceptualization and measurement of the nature, sources, and ramifications of employment instability
  2. To design and evaluate workplace interventions aimed at decreasing employment instability
  3. To study how social policies can mitigate the effects of employment instability on families.

The Problem

Employment instability is an increasingly important social problem in the U.S. that threatens the well-being of families and poses considerable challenges to our safety net. Precarious employment has increased in the past 30 years, due to macroeconomic changes and the use of workplace policies that pass risk from the market onto workers. The Great Recession and the slow recovery that followed have further eroded the stability of work, particularly for workers with less than a college education.

Instability has increased not only between jobs, but also within jobs.  Many workers experience unpredictable, variable, and nonstandard hours, temporary or contingent employment, and involuntary part-time positions.

Research indicates that employment instability leads to economic insecurity for workers, their families, and their communities. That insecurity can have long-lasting adverse effects on the health and development of both adults and children. 

Although scholars from a range of intellectual fields examine this problem and its consequences, there are few opportunities to collaborate across those fields and to connect that research to workplace and policy solutions.

EINet’s Goal

EINet is creating a diverse network of affiliates drawn from academics, employers, and public policy analysts with expertise in employment dynamics, workplace practices, social policy, work-life issues, and children and families. EINet affiliation is meant to foster new and productive professional relationships across disciplines and sectors. The focus of EINet activities will be on understanding the causes and consequences of instability in low-wage jobs, and developing public policy and workplace interventions designed to reduce instability.

Anyone with an interest in furthering research in these areas can apply to be an affiliate.

Affiliation with the network will provide access to a host of resources, including grant support, methodological training, and networking opportunities. Affiliates have the flexibility to determine the degree of their participation in planned network-sponsored events, including:

  • A roundtable on improving the measurement of employment dynamics in national surveys.
  • Trainings on methodological strategies for testing workplace interventions
  • A small grants competition
  • Support for grant writing & review