|Date:||27 April 2018|
|Authors:||Barra Roantree and Kartik Vira|
More than three quarters of women aged 25-54 in the UK are in paid work, reaching a record high of 78% in 2017. In contrast, fewer than 60% were in paid work in the mid-1970s. New analysis by IFS researchers, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), looks at changes in women’s working patterns over the last four decades. It shows that these big social and economic changes are in large part driven by mothers. In the mid-1970s nearly half of couples with dependent children had just one adult in paid work; that proportion now stands at just 27% (see Figure). The increase in maternal employment has been concentrated among those with children of pre-school or primary-school age, and also among the partners of relatively high-earning men.
Other key findings include:
Barra Roantree, a Research Economist at the IFS and an author of the report, said:
“Employment rates for working-age women in the UK have increased dramatically over the past four decades, particularly for those with young children. This is a huge social and economic change – the vast majority of couples with children now have two adults in paid work. With the earnings of women increasingly important for these families, understanding the reasons behind persistent differences in the wages of men and women is all the more important.”
Figure: working status of couples with children
Source: see Figure 11 of ‘The rise and rise of women’s employment in the UK’, IFS Briefing Note 234, published Friday 27 April .