More women than ever are the main breadwinners in their families, a think-tank has found.
More than 2.2 million women are now the main source of income in their households – a rise of 83 per cent 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, either because they earn more or the same as their partners or because they provide a household’s sole income, the IPPR 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 per cent, with 31 per cent in Wales and the north-east and the north-west of England.
This compares with just 26 per cent in the east of England and the south-west and 27 per cent in London and the South East.
The authors of the report, Condition of Britain, said the UK-wide 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 IPPR found the number of cohabiting mothers who are breadwinning has doubled since 1996-97 to 200,000.