Handbook on In-Work Poverty
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Handbook on In-Work Poverty

Edited by Henning Lohmann and Ive Marx

There has been a rapid global expansion of academic and policy attention focusing on in-work poverty, acknowledging that across the world a large number of the poor are ‘working poor’. Taking a global and multi-disciplinary perspective, this Handbook provides a comprehensive overview of current research at the intersection between work and poverty.
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Chapter 10: Single-parent families and in-work poverty

Rense Nieuwenhuis and Laurie C. Maldonado

Abstract

Single-parent families face unique challenges when it comes to in-work poverty. Without a second caregiver and earner, single parents have to compete with dual-earner couples for their position in the earnings distribution. Facing precarious employment and gendered wage inequality, single-parent families face a high risk of experiencing poverty even when they are working. This chapter presents empirical evidence on in-work poverty and inadequate wages in the policy context of 18 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The impact of family structure, occupation, regulations of part-time work, paid parental leave, and various redistributive policies are examined. The authors distinguish three distinct patterns of performance in countries’ approaches to in-work poverty among single parents: a balanced approach of ensuring low inequality on the labor market combined with redistribution; an unbalanced approach of combating in-work poverty mostly through redistribution; and an approach in which high inequality on the labor market is compensated with redistributive policies to only a very limited extent. Countries that rely on a balanced approach to reduce inequality in the labor market, with respect to both class and gender, combined with an adequate level of redistribution, seem best situated for a durable reduction of poverty among working single parents.

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