More women are family breadwinners

woman commuterMore women than ever are the main breadwinners in their families, a leading think-tank has found.

More than 2.2 million women are now the main source of income in their households - a rise of 83% since 1996/97, according to a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).
It means one in three working mothers is the primary breadwinner for their family, either because they earn more or the same as their partners or because they provide a household's sole income, the IPPR said.

The authors of the report, Condition of Britain, said the findings were "significant", suggesting women are now doing more than ever before to financially support their families.

"The new analysis presented in this report has shown that more mothers are breadwinning than ever before," they said.

"This change is due to a higher rate of female employment, changes in family structures, and shifts in men's employment - especially the employment of low-paid men, whose wages have largely stagnated."

The report said current policy from Government and employers was not geared up to deal with the "difficult reality" facing many families.

"With wages not set to rise in the short-term and living standards likely to remain squeezed, universal affordable childcare, genuinely flexible work, progressive parental leave and better support for families going through periods of transition would go a long way towards responding to the daily reality of people's lives," it said.

The report found a wide regional disparity in the number of families where women earn more or the same as their partners.

Scotland had the highest level of maternal breadwinning, at 32%, with 31% in Wales and the north-east and the north-west of England.

This compares with just 26% in the east of England and the south-west and 27% in London and the South East.

The IPPR found the number of cohabiting mothers who are breadwinning has doubled since 1996/97 to 200,000.

Mothers with degrees are more likely to be breadwinners than lower-skilled mothers, with 35% with a degree-level qualification earning more than their partner, it said.

Breadwinning by young mothers aged 16 to 24 has risen sharply in the recent poor economic climate, increasing by more than five percentage points to 16% since 2007/08, the report found.

© 2013 Press Association
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More women are family breadwinners

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Susanne Klatten, 48, is the daughter of Herbert Quandt, the man who rescued BMW from bankruptcy in the 1960s.

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