More low-paid men working part-time, IFS analysis finds

13 Jan 17

The proportion of low-paid men working part time has quadrupled over the past 20 years, according to research published today by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Twenty years ago, just one in 20 men aged 25 to 55 with low hourly wages worked part time, but this figure has since increased to one in five.

Over the same period, the proportion of middle- and high- wage men working part-time remained lower than 1 in 20. 

Jonathan Cribb, an author of the report and a senior research economist at the IFS, said: “The number of low-wage men working part time has increased sharply over the last twenty years. To understand the drivers of inequality in the UK it is vital to understand the growing association between low hourly wages and low hours of work among men.”

The finding was part of an IFS analysis of inequality in Britain over the past two decades. The research used figures from the Labour Force Survey up to 2014-15. ‘Part time’ was defined as less than 30 hours a week and ‘low pay’ was defined as the lowest 20% of hourly wages, equivalent to £7.60 in 2014-15.

The study sampled male employees aged 25 to 55, excluding those with hourly pay in the bottom 5% or top 5% of the overall hourly pay distribution.

The trend has been occurring consistently for 20 years and was true for low-wage men across the age spectrum, for single men and men in couples, and for those with and without children.

The report also found that weekly earnings inequality among men has risen significantly, but that inequality in women’s weekly pay has fallen.

Looking at the combined pay of men and women who live together, inequality in total earnings has risen. But when taxes and benefits are taken into consideration, income inequality has remained at the same level.

And excluding the top 1% of earners, inequality in total net household incomes, after benefits and after taxes, across the whole population (not just households in work) is lower than 20 years ago. 

But the share of net total household income received by the top 1% of earners increased from 6% in 1994-95 to 8% in 2014-15.

Chris Belfield, another author of the report and a Research Economist at IFS, said: “In the last 20 years, the incomes of the top 1% have pulled further away from the rest. But across the vast majority of the population income inequality has actually fallen.

"However, in large part this is because the tax and benefit system has worked increasingly hard to offset disparities in the pay brought home by working households, and because of the catch-up of pensioners with those of working age, as well as falls in worklessness.”

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