Poor men are far more likely to be single at middle age than their richer counterparts | UK | News

And the likelihood of being in a relationship and their partner being a higher earner are increasingly related to family background, according to the findings from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

As well as being more likely to be both in work and in highly-paid job, richer men in their early 40s in Britain are also more likely to be living with a partner, 

In 2012, around one in three men aged 42 from the poorest fifth of households lived alone, the research found. 

This compared with one in seven (15 per cent) of their counterparts from rich backgrounds living without a partner.

Men from low income households were more than twice as likely to be divorced as those from high-income backgrounds, at 11 per cent versus five per cent and nearly twice as likely never to have been married, at 36 per cent versus 20 per cent.

Richer men were also more likely to have higher-earning partners tending to earn around 73 per cent more than the partners of men from poorer families.

As women’s earnings are an increasingly important part of a household’s income, these trends significantly reduce the household incomes of men who grew up in poor families compared with those of men who grew up in rich families, the IFS said.

This has sparked a “new divide” as among men born 12 years earlier, the differences in partnership status and partner earnings by family background were considerably smaller.

The earnings gap between men with richer parents and their counterparts from less well off backgrounds was also found to be widening.

In 2012, employed 42-year-old men whose parents were among the richest fifth of households earned on average 88 per cent more than those from the poorest families. In 2000, the gap was 47 per cent.

Men from poorer backgrounds were also twice as likely to be out of work as those from richer backgrounds.

Only seven per cent of those growing up in the richest fifth of households were out of work at the age of 42 in 2012, while more than 15 per cent from the poorest fifth of households were out of work.

Chris Belfield, a research economist at the 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…

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