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Half a job, twice as poor: Empirical investigations into the role of earnings, family composition, and institutions as factors underlying the poverty risk of part-timers across Europe

TitleHalf a job, twice as poor: Empirical investigations into the role of earnings, family composition, and institutions as factors underlying the poverty risk of part-timers across Europe
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsHoremans, J.
Academic DepartmentSocial and Economic Sciences
Number of Pages224
Date Published15/07/2016
Place PublishedAntwerp
Thesis Typedoctoral dissertation
Abstract

A job is the best protection against poverty. On the other hand, in-work poverty has become a non-negligible reality across Europe. Because part-time jobs have been responsible for much of the job growth in recent decades, this study examines the relationship between part-time work and in-work poverty. A-priori we cannot expect part-timers to have a higher poverty risk solely because they work less. People are unlikely to opt for a part-time job voluntarily unless income needs are sufficiently met. In addition, dual earnership has become the norm to be protected against poverty. Hence, a part-time job may precisely provide the additional income a household needs to be lifted above the poverty line. Empirical results, however, indicate that part-timers are on average twice as likely to be poor compared to full-timers. Furthermore, the increased poverty risk of part-timers is not limited to involuntary part-time workers. This dissertation argues that the poverty risk of part-timers, as well as its variation across Europe, should be understood against the background of labour demand and labour supply side mechanisms that shape part-time employment. Lower earnings are a key element underlying the poverty risk of part-timers, but the income provided by other workers in the household and government transfers should not be neglected. Without the latter resources the poverty risk of part-timers would be much higher in most countries. With about one in five jobs in Europe being part-time, this dissertation provides an important snapshot of one of the key drivers of the ever changing balance between labour market structures, household employment patterns, and income protection schemes. The findings can inform policymakers when considering policies to increase employment without increasing in-work poverty.

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