Not the usual my hours have been cut or wages reduced story. I am in my late 20s, am educated to masters level, with around 5 years experience in my field both at home and abroad, and am working for one of the US multinationals that supposedly are our economy's great white hope of recovery. There are the square root of no opportunities for advancement in my office, and even in the London office they have adopted the increasingly popular method of promotions without any pay rises (moving the deck chairs springs to mind). Relative to many I probably earn a decent wage, but hover marginally below the official industrial average.
My partner has recently given birth to our first child. She has no formal education and has worked only in the services sector (shops, dept. stores etc.). Once her maternity period is completed the cost of childcare in Dublin will render it impossible for her to return to work. However, as she lives with me and we remain together, she will not therefore be entitled to any welfare payments beyond child benefit. I therefore took it upon myself to calculate our finances post maternity benefit , and have calculated that we would be quite significantly better off if I were to lose my job and we could both then apply for a range of benefits (having never been on benefits before I have little doubt there are probably even more for which we could be eligible that I have disregarded). Furthermore, with free education and retention of benefits during some courses for the long term unemployed it could even be argued that my prospects of advancement would be enhanced by unemployment.
My question isn't about whether I should or should not take this course of action. What these calculations really opened my eyes to was my desperate need to emigrate again and this time never to return. Many of my friends have already availed of this option, with those most able to do so due to demanded skills or good education the most likely to leave. But what hope has this country of any recovery where those with good educations, good work ethic, and a desire for advancement are better off by not working? The forth "commandment" of economics is that people respond to rewards - I am currently being incentivised to quit work and claim welfare from financial, advancement and personal (time with family) points of view. And if I am unable to find suitable work abroad, what possible motivations exist for me to remain in the workforce?