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Poverty, economic status and skills

What are the links?

Published: November 2013

Aim

Income poverty is set to rise by 2020. Two key policy levers to increase household incomes are reducing worklessness and improving prospects for those trapped in low-wage, low-skilled work.

This project uses innovative analysis of the Family Resources Survey to explore the economic activity status and skills levels of households in order to improve the targeting of initiatives for households in poverty.

Findings 

  • Families with children in poverty had a high concentration of unemployment, with one or both parents out of work.
  • Skill levels varied more widely among families with children in the lower half of income distribution, mainly because of non-working mothers caring for children.
  • There were four types of households with children in poverty. Most common was male breadwinner couples, where the father was working and the mother was looking after children or working part-time.
  • There were five types of families with children on low-to-medium incomes. The largest group was mid-skilled working couples, where the father predominantly worked full-time, with some working mothers but some mothers caring for children.
  •  In households without children, those in poverty were more likely to be workless, less likely to be in full-time work, and more likely to have no qualifications.
  • There were five types of households without children in poverty. Most common were workless households, who tended to have no-to-medium qualifications. They were mainly single people who tended to be younger and were disproportionately likely to have a health problem.
  • There were five types of households without children on low-to-middle incomes. Most prevalent was medium-skilled working singles, who were mostly middle-aged; just over half were single men. They were mainly in routine or manual work.

Methods

This study uses data from the Family Resources Survey to illustrate the main activity and skills levels of households with different income levels.

We created typologies for each income group based on the most common combinations of work status and skills levels within households, and explore the key differences between poor and non-poor households.

The study looks at families with children and households without children separately.

 

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