Highlight the in-work poverty under sociological point of view

Highlight the in-work poverty under sociological point of view

Zachary Van Winkle et al.
Advances in Life Course Research Journal
  • Image 09910190 (via Shutterstock)Image 09910190 (via Shutterstock)

Family demographic processes and in-work poverty: A systematic review

Antonino Polizzia, Emanuela Struffolino, Zachary Van Winkle

Advances in Life Course Research, vol. 52, June 2022, 100462
Paper available on ScienceDirect portal
Paper also available in Preprint version (SocArXiv)


The presence of working poor individuals – employed individuals who live in households with incomes below the poverty threshold – represents a worrisome phenomenon in advanced democracies that can engender social exclusion.  Individuals in in-work poverty constitute a sizeable group in rich countries, with the share of employed people at risk of poverty in the EU approaching 10% before the COVID-19 pandemic.

A comprehensive and critical review on how family demographic processes shape in-work poverty risks is still missing.
In this systematic review, made with 84 analyses extracted from 30 studies, we first provide a quantitative review of results from analyses that estimated the association between in-work poverty and parental home leaving, union formation, marriage, parenthood, and dissolution of non-marital and marital unions. This allows us to formulate tentative conclusions about whether and in which direction family demographic processes are associated with in-work poverty. Second, we discuss in detail conceptual and methodological advances in in-work poverty research, such as longitudinal analytical designs or attempts to make in-work poverty research more sensitive to policy context, gender, and the life course. Our review highlights theoretical and methodological challenges for future studies linking in-work poverty and family demography.

Some findings: Roughly 80 percent of analyses reported the risk of in-work poverty increased with children. 60 percent of analyses indicated that being in a union decreased this risk. The majority of the few studies considering union dissolution indicated that it increased the in-work poverty risk.

Fig.2 - Total number of analyses selected for the quantitative review by family demographic process: direction and significance of associationsFig 2 - Total number of analyses by family demographic processlegend

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