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Family incomes are 28% lower when breadwinner is female

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UK families with female breadwinners have household incomes on average 28% lower than homes where the primary earner is male, according to research.

The average annual income for male breadwinner households is £27,180 but this falls to £19,620 where a woman is the main earner.

When both partners receive around the same income, this rises to £29,040, according to Aviva’s Family Finances Report.

Evidence suggests that women are the higher earner for almost a third of UK couples (31%) and two million working mothers are the biggest earners in their families, a rise of 80% in the last 15 years.

Yet the Aviva data suggests that overall these households will have lower incomes and fewer financial provisions than their ‘male’ counterparts.
Debts also appear to be higher among female breadwinner households. The typical amount owed by households where the main income earner is female is £14,366, while for corresponding ‘male’ households this figure is £10,537 (not including mortgage debt).

The research also found:

• Households where the main income earner is female have an average of £826 in savings and typically save £81 per month.

• This compares to £5,259 (amount held in savings) and for £108 (saved monthly) male breadwinner households.

• 29% of female breadwinner households have life insurance compared to 40% of ‘male’ households.

• Female breadwinner households are more than twice as likely to have taken out a payday loan in the last year (5% of homes where women are the main earner compared to 2% where the breadwinner is male).

Louise Colley, protection distribution director for Aviva said: “There’s been a steady increase in the number of working mothers and female breadwinners in recent years, yet it’s sad to see that this trend is not always reflected in their earnings. Many families now rely on a single income, particularly when children are very young and childcare costs are high, and it’s becoming increasingly common to see women taking on this role.

“If households have a single earner, this often has a knock-on effect in their ability to provide for their families and save for their futures.”


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