Child Poverty: Sex


The relationship between an individual’s sex and poverty has been widely examined through a range of contrasting, and complimentary perspectives.  A number of common themes emerge from existing research, including, but not limited to: 

  • The gendered pay gap;
  • disproportionate impact of welfare reform upon women;
  • significant under-representation of females in the labour market.

This section will explore these issues in further depth; however, they should be viewed in conjunction with: 


Key Facts and Figures: Glasgow, Scotland and the UK

The risk of child poverty for single parent families has been widely researched as a concerning issue throughout Glasgow, Scotland and the UK.

Save the Children suggest that around 90% of the 163,000 single parents in Scotland are women. Within this, 41% of single parent households live in relative poverty.

Research has demonstrated the following contributing factors to poverty, and subsequently, child poverty, in single parent households:

  • Difficulties in accessing the labour market (in positions which are accommodating to their needs as single parents).
  • Below inflation pay increases.
  • Welfare reforms (including housing benefit changes)
  • Childcare costs.
  • Increased costs of living.
  • The reduction of earning disregard (the amount parents can earn before benefits are removed).
  • The current taper rate (the rate at which benefits are reduced, as earnings increase). 

    Source: Save the Children.2012. Ending Child Poverty: Ensuring Universal Credit Supports Working Mums in Scotland.


    The Gendered Pay Gap

    Research highlights that in Scotland, in 2013, a 17.3% gap in the mean weekly pay (full-time), existed between men (£625.10) and women (£516.80).

    This is replicated within mean hourly pay (full-time). In which, a 13.3% gap exists. With men earning £16.27 per hour and women earning £14.11.

    On average, women working full time in Scotland earn £108.30 less than men.

    These issues demonstrate a gendered element to child poverty.  Women appear to be earning less, have reduced options within the labour market, are disproportionately effected by welfare reform and are over-represented as single parents.

    The knock on effect on children who have single, female parents is clear – they face increased risks of child poverty in comparison to two parent households and single male parents.

    Source: Close the Gap. 2014. GTC Working Paper 11: Statistics.


    Poverty Rates by Sex

    Overall there is little difference in the relative poverty rates (before housing costs) for adult men (14%) and adult women (13%).

    However, in 2011/12, 21% of single women with children lived in poverty, compared to 17% of single men with children.

    Furthermore, in 2011/12, 18% of female single pensioners without children lived in poverty, compared with 17% of males.

    Source: Scottish Government. 2013. Income and Poverty.


    Birth Rates

    Glasgow has the second highest rate of births to mothers under the age of 24 within Scotland, 28%.  This is slightly behind Dundee (35%), slightly more than the national average (25%), Aberdeen (23%) and significantly higher than Edinburgh, 18%.

    Although these figures don’t differentiate between single mothers, or mothers within a relationship, previous discussions surrounding age and earnings, coupled with the gendered pay gap, suggest young mothers face heightened risks of poverty.

    Source: Glasgow Indicators Project (National Records for Scotland 2007-2011)