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In-work poverty in times of crisis: do part-timers fare worse?

Jeroen Horemans and Ive Marx

No 13/14, ImPRovE Working Papers from Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp

Abstract: Part-time work has structurally increased across Europe. The recent crisis period has brought additional increases in many countries, especially in involuntary part-time employment. This paper considers the link between part-time work and poverty, taking a comparative perspective across the EU15. The extent to which part-time work is associated with poverty varies considerably, far more so than for full-time workers. Involuntary part-time work clearly stands out as most problematic although an increased poverty risk is not confined to that segment of part-time work. Part-time work for care reasons also carries a higher poverty risk in some countries. It is most problematic in countries where demand and supply side related factors reinforce each other so as to make part-time work an inferior choice from the perspective of preferred working hours, earnings and employment security. Moreover, part-timers sometimes face a ‘double income penalty’ in that they are more likely to have lower earnings and reduced eligibility for certain social transfers. However, there is again considerable cross-country variation in this respect. In some countries actually the reverse is the case and part-timers are in effect more likely to receive social transfers, while being in employment, improving their post-transfer poverty position in a significant way. Taken together, the paper shows that the regulatory drivers shaping part-time work and the welfare state arrangements supporting, or failing to support part-time work play key roles in accounting for the wide variation in poverty risks associated with part-time work across the EU15.

Keywords: in-work poverty; part-time work; tax benefit systems; EU15; EU-SILC (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I32 J21 R28 J68 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2013-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-eur, nep-lam, nep-ltv and nep-neu
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