August 11, 2017

Poor men in their 40s more likely to be single than their richer peers

Poor men in their 40s more likely to be single than their richer peers

Men from poor backgrounds are twice as likely to be single in their early 40s than those from rich families, according to research conducted by the UK’s Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). 

The IFS found that more than a third of men aged 42 from the poorest fifth of families did not live with a partner in 2012, compared with only a seventh from high-income backgrounds. 

Men from disadvantaged backgrounds also experienced lower rates of marriage and higher rates of divorce. Of those in couples, the partners of those from richer backgrounds earned more than 70% more than the partners of men from poorer families. 

Chris Belfield, a research economist at the IFS, said: "As well as having higher earnings, those from richer families are more likely to be in work, more likely to have a partner and more likely to have a higher-earning partner than those from less well-off backgrounds.” 

The IFS warn that these trends make poverty more likely to persist across the generations and reduce social mobility.

With price increases outstripping wages since the Brexit vote and average real wages in the UK still lower than before the financial crisis, many workers are getting poorer on average in real terms. 

A spokesman from the UK Treasury told the BBC that the government wants “to build an economy that works for everyone regardless of their background.” Two mechanisms they have employed to achieve greater economic equality include increasing the national living wage and raising the personal tax allowance to prevent the poorest in society from having to pay any tax.

Martin Biewen has written about poverty persistence for IZA World of Labor. He notes: “Not all people who are poor are persistently poor. Evidence suggests that unemployment, retirement, and single parenthood are closely associated with persistent poverty and that higher education tends to protect against it. There is also evidence of a poverty trap, meaning that policy should aim to prevent people from falling into poverty because once poor, the probability of being poor in the future increases. Policies that promote education, employment, and attachment to work will be most effective in reducing persistent poverty, along with policies that strengthen family and job stability (such as childcare subsidies).

Read more about economic inequality.

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