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Video Summary: Mothers in the Labour Market, 2011

Released: 31 March 2011

Transcript – Mothers in the labour market

This is a podcast from the Office for National Statistics covering mothers in the labour market.

Coming up we will compare employment rates for women for those who have children and those who don’t, and we will see how this has changed over the
past fifteen years. We only look at mothers with dependent children, that is all children under 16 and those aged 16 to 18 and still in education. We will then look at the changes in full-time and part-time employment before finally comparing differences between couple mothers and lone mothers.

The information comes from the Labour Force Survey, which is a survey of households across the UK. Individuals respond about their working patterns, and using their household characteristics we can also identify whether women have children or not, and if they live with a partner or alone.

Here we will look at the percentage of women with and without children in employment in each quarter since 1996. We will firstly show the period of the most recent recession, and then the line
for women without children, and the line for mothers. Over the last fifteen years the gap between the two employment series has narrowed, from 5.8 percentage points in 1996, to just 0.8 percentage points in 2010. In the final quarter of 2010, 67.3 per cent of women without children were in work, with 66.5 per cent of mothers in work. There is more than one reason why the gap has narrowed over the last fifteen years. As well as more mothers choosing to work, there is also an ageing population to consider. Employment rates for mothers peak in the age group 35 to 49 and because of an ageing population, this age group made up a higher percentage of all mothers in the UK in 2010 compared with 1996. Women are also choosing to have children later in life, leading to more mothers aged 35 to 49 with pre-school children in 2010 compared to 1996. Across the age groups for women with pre-school children, the employment rates are also highest for those aged 35 to 49. Therefore more mothers in this age group contribute to the overall increase in employment for mothers as a whole. Also, employment for women without children has fallen since the onset of the recent recession, and this has been driven mainly by a fall in employment for young women aged 16 to 24.

Now we will look at changes in working patterns and the percentage of mothers working part-time and full-time, in each quarter since 1996. Part-time employment for mothers has remained fairly stable over the last fifteen years. However, the percentage of mothers working full-time has increased, from 23.1 per cent in 1996, to 29.0 per cent in 2010. Also, part-time employment is consistently higher than full-time and in 2010, 37.4 per cent of mothers worked part-time and 29.0 per cent worked full-time.

Finally we will look at how having a partner impacts on employment, and also how this changes according to the age of the youngest child in the family. Firstly, for mothers who are living with a partner there is an increased opportunity to share childcare responsibilities and their employment rate is higher than for mothers who live alone. In 2010, 71.8 per cent of couple mothers had a job, compared to only 55.4 per cent of lone mothers. Now let’s consider how the age of the youngest child in the family impacts on employment. Firstly, for mothers with a partner and where the youngest child is aged 0 to 4, 5 to 10, 11 to 15 and 16 to 18. We see that employment rates increase from 63.2 per cent where the age of the youngest child is 0 to 4 to 81.1 per cent when the youngest child is aged 16 to 18. There is a similar pattern for mothers who live alone although their employment rates increase faster as they start off lower. When the youngest child is aged 0 to 4 just 36.2 per cent of lone mothers work. Rising to 77.7 per cent when the youngest child is aged 16 to 18. Therefore as the age of the youngest child increases the gap between the employment rate decreases, with very little gap where the youngest child is aged 16 to 18.

The animated video with commentary shows:

  1. How there is an increasing number of mothers with dependent children working in the UK.

  2. It shows how most of the increase has been driven by mothers working full-time and how demographic changes in the UK help to explain the change.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

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    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

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