Female employment boosts family living standards

Encouraging higher levels of female employment would raise living standards in low income families, argues the Resolution Foundation in The Missing Million: The Potential for Female Employment to Raise Living Standards in Low to Middle Income Britain. From 1968 to 2008, women’s employment levels drove more than a quarter of all income growth in families with low to middle incomes. In more recent years it has become even more important, counterbalancing flat wages and falls in male employment. Yet, even while reliance on women going out to work has grown, the absolute pace of growth has faltered. After rising 7.4 percentage points in the 1980s, the UK female participation rate rose just 1.4 percentage points in the 2000s, leaving the UK ranked only 15th in the OECD on female employment.

Further gains in female employment present a rare opportunity to boost living standards in the years ahead. Yet although such gains are achievable, they will not come easily. They will only be won through a concerted effort to apply the lessons from the academic evidence and from the best performing countries around the world.

The full report is available on the Resolution Foundation website.