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Austerity policies had a greater impact on women than men

Reductions in Child Benefit and other welfare payments accounted for most of the disparity.

Image: Shutterstock/Twin Design

THE LAST DECADE of budgetary policy has hit women harder than men and the most unequal measures were introduced in the austerity budgets at the height of the recession.

According to a new report from the Economic & Social Research Institute (ESRI) changes to the tax and benefit system over the last 10 years has left women with greater income reductions than men.

The gender differences can largely be attributed to reductions in Child Benefit and other welfare payments from 2008-2012. The failure of welfare payments to keep pace with inflation during the recovery period was also found to be a significant factor.

The disparities were largely caused by the fact that women are more likely than men to be lone parents, they are also more likely to be out of the labour force and to benefit from child-related supports. 

“Although tax and welfare policies do not typically differentiate based on gender, they can affect men and women differently,” explained Dr Karina Doorley, an author of the report.

Men tend to have higher earnings than women, resulting in different income tax liabilities and benefit entitlement.

Between 2008-2018 budgetary policy hit lone parents, who are mainly women, proportionally more than singles without children.

The research found little evidence of a gender difference for men and women who work and single men and women without children were also affected in a similar manner.

Within couples, the measures introduced in the last decade resulted in reductions to women’s disposable income compared to that of their spouse, particularly in households with children. However, the research noted that the significance of this difference is lessened by the fact that spouses tend to share resources.

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Ceimin Burke

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