Evidence from Europe
Edited by Daniel Vaughan-Whitehead
Chapter 13: Social Impact of the Crisis in the United Kingdom: Focus on Gender and Age Inequalities
Damian Grimshaw and Anthony Rafferty* 1. INTRODUCTION This chapter charts the inequalities in work and employment with a particular focus on gender and age inequalities resulting from the 2008–2009 recession in the United Kingdom. The reduction in GDP was the deepest and most prolonged for almost 30 years, unemployment increased to more than 8 per cent after a decade at 5–6 per cent and average real earnings fell. The consequences for men and women were strongly shaped by patterns of sex segregation, given the strong negative employment effects of the recession in the male-dominated sectors of construction and manufacturing and the economic shelter, at least until 2010, enjoyed by jobs in the female-dominated public sector. Also, unlike past recessions where women were more likely to have played the role of flexible buffer by working reduced hours, switching from full-time to part-time jobs or taking on temporary contracts, during this recession men shared hours reductions with women, experienced a similar rise in part-time employment and a higher rise in temporary work. However, women were penalized in three key respects: first, among the growing numbers of unemployed, women were only half as likely as men to claim unemployment benefits; second, women constitute the bulk of lone parent households which were subject to increasingly stringent job search tests to be eligible for benefits; and third, the recession marked a halt to a prior trend of rising relative pay for women in low paid work. The recession also had particularly negative consequences...
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