Understanding social exclusion across the life course: Working age adults without dependent children



Building upon earlier work resulting in the Bristol Social Exclusion Matrix (Levitas et al., 2007), this project investigates multidimensional exclusion amongst working age adults without children. Using data drawn from the General Household Survey and the British Household Panel Survey, the research explores the structure of disadvantage and how vulnerability to different forms of disadvantage varies within the population, and across the life course. In particular the project considers how different combinations of disadvantage occur within the population and across time, in order to inform understanding both of those significant ‘trigger events’ which precipitate multiple disadvantage, as well as of the wider drivers of exclusion. 

This research suggests that approximately 16% of working age adults without children (aged 25+)  – or 2.6 million people – are experiencing multidimensional disadvantage at any one point in time.  Tackling multidimensional disadvantage amongst working age adults without children therefore ought to be a key priority within the UK’s overall strategy for social inclusion.  However, the circumstances facing this group are not wholly explicable in terms of labour market non-participation, for example with regard to the circumstances of the ‘working poor’ and the ‘low skilled’ groups identified here.  The absolute magnitude of these groups means that tackling disadvantage amongst those in work should also be a priority in reducing the overall incidence of disadvantage in the UK.  The final project report is now available at: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/226113/working-age-children.pdf

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