Men who grew up poor are twice as likely to be single in middle-age

Men from poor backgrounds are twice as likely to be single than their more well off peers, new research has revealed.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, a third of men from disadvantaged backgrounds are single at the age of 42 compared to just one in seven whose parents were rich.

This disparity has “strengthened the link between the incomes of families across generations, thus reducing social mobility” the think tank concluded.

Men from low-income households were also more than twice as likely to be divorced as those from high-income backgrounds (11% rather than 5%) and almost twice as likely never to have been married (36% rather than 20%).

The IFS also found that the earnings gap is widening between men, dependent on their background.

Social mobility is decreasing, the think tank found (Getty Images)

It found that, in 2012, employed 42-year-old men whose parents were among the richest fifth of households earned on average 88% more than those from the poorest families. In 2000, the equivalent gap for men of the same age was 47%.


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Men from poorer backgrounds are also twice as likely to be out of work as those from richer backgrounds: only 7% of men growing up in the richest fifth of households were out of work at age 42 in 2012, compared to more than 15% of men from the poorest fifth of households.

There is also a disparity when it comes to the receipt of disability benefits, which were taken by 11% of men from poorer backgrounds, compared to 4% of those whose parents were well off.

Chris Belfield, a research economist at IFS and an author of the paper, said: “Focusing solely on the earnings of men in work understates the importance of family background in determining living standards.

“As well as having higher earnings, those from richer families are more likely to be in work, more likely to have a partner and more likely to have a higher-earning partner than those from less well-off backgrounds. And all these inequalities have been widening over time.”