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Coronavirus could derail rise of female breadwinners

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The number of female breadwinners in the UK is gradually rising but the coronavirus crisis could knock this trend off course.

Almost a quarter of women earn more than their male partner, up from a fifth 16 years ago, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures for insurer Royal London.

At the current rate of growth, it would take 62 years before women earn more than men in more than half of households, Royal London said.

However, the coronavirus crisis could stall progress as women are more likely to be furloughed or lose their jobs during the pandemic.

Becky O’Connor, personal finance specialist at Royal London, said: We know that men tend to earn more than female colleagues in the workplace but the domestic gender pay gap is also important when considering economic equality.

“Women becoming breadwinners could be the key to some pretty big changes and the undoing of some harmful assumptions.

“These figures suggest women’s earning patterns are breaking out of a vicious circle that has persisted for generations, in which women have traditionally assumed caring roles, so have earned less; then because they earn less, their incomes and careers often take the hit when caring duties arise.

“The expected impact of the coronavirus lockdown on women’s work and earnings is an example of this playing out in real time, as women’s work has been lost through job cuts and caring demands. This could have lasting impact and derail the rise of the female breadwinner.”

According to the data, men earn more than women in seven-in-ten households (72%), down from 78% in 2004.

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