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‘Dramatic’ rise in men in low-paid, part-time work

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In contrast, inequality in women's weekly pay has fallen

There has been a “dramatic” rise in men doing low-paid part-time work, according to a report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS).

The report Two decades of Income Inequality in Britain: The Role of Wages, Household Earnings and Redistribution found that one in five men aged 25 to 55 with low hourly wages work part time (defined as working fewer than 30 hours a week).

This is a four-fold increase from 20 years ago, when only one in 20 men in this group worked part time.

This means that for men “low hourly wages and low hours of work increasingly go together”, and the IFS suggests this link is driving pay inequality.

“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,” said author of the report and senior research economist at the IFS Jonathan Cribb.

The think tank says the rise of men on low hourly wages working part time predates the recession and is widespread. The trend is consistent across the age spectrum and is the same for single men and those with families.

In contrast, wage inequality among women has fallen. This is because the number of women working part time has fallen, the IFS says. Female weekly pay has also grown faster than male weekly pay.

The report also states the inequality in household incomes as a whole has fallen, but that this has been driven by things such as tax credits boosting the incomes of low earners and falling levels of household unemployment.

However, for the top 1% of earners, share of net household incomes has increased from 6% in 1994-95 to 8% in 2014-15.

Another author of the report and IFS research economist Chris Belfield 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 fallen.

“However, in large part this is because the tax and benefits 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.”