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UK women increasingly primary household breadwinners

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02/02/2015
Nearly one in five (17 per cent) of women are the main breadwinner in their relationship, according to a new study released by Scottish Widows.

Over a third (37 per cent) of respondents said that their mothers had sole responsibility for managing household finances while they were growing up, compared to almost half (49 per cent) today. Furthermore, 32 per cent of this group claim sole responsibility for subsidising daily household expenditure (such as energy bills, groceries, and clothing).

The study also indicates that the notion of financial independence has greater resonance with younger generations. On average, UK women first feel financially independent at 22 years old, and the proportion of women who claim to be the main breadwinner in their household rises to a quarter among those aged 25-34. This grouping is also the most likely to keep finances separate from a partner, with more than half (52 per cent) admitting they do not share any bank accounts with their partner (compared to 39 per cent overall).

Despite the apparent shift towards gender equality in relationship finances, childcare continues to represent a chasm between men and women, with 42 per cent of women with children saying they agreed with their partner to put their careers on hold to provide childcare, 26 per cent saying that having children has negatively impacted their career prospects, and 37 per cent believing their financial independence had been reduced as a result.

“When Scottish Widows was established in 1815 women were largely excluded from the workforce, couldn’t vote, had no right to their own property,” Jackie Leiper of Scottish Widows said. “Today our research found that the average woman feels financially independent by the age of only 22.

“Despite the huge strides that women have taken with finances, it is clear that childcare remains a significant barrier when it comes to career progression. We believe that both employers and the government should support families in balancing work and childcare responsibilities better. As part of Lloyds Banking Group, we are committed to seeing women succeed in the workplace and ensuring everyone can find the right work-life balance and plan for a secure financial future.”

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