Poverty, economic status and skills: what are the links?

Document type
Barnes, Matt; Lord, Chris
Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Date of publication
13 November 2013
Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion, Education and Skills, Employment
Social welfare
Material type

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The most common type of family in poverty contains at least one working parent. This research considers ways to reduce poverty according to household circumstances and introduce measures to support working parents.

It looks at the economic activity status and skill levels of households with different incomes. The research finds:

  • In households without children, those in poverty are more likely to be workless, less likely to be in full-time work and more likely to have no qualifications. Families with children in poverty have a high concentration of either one or both parents out of work, and wider variation in skill levels, mainly due to mothers being out of work to care for children.
  • The most common type of household with children in poverty is male breadwinner couples, where the man is working and the woman is looking after the children, or working part-time.
  • The most common type of childless household in poverty is workless people who tend to have no-to-medium qualifications. They are mainly single people who tend to be younger and are disproportionately likely to have a health problem.

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