The rate of employment among women in the UK aged between 25 and 54 hit a record high of 78% in 2017, according to a report published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).
In 1975 only 57% of women in that age group were in work, with figures soaring over the past four decades, which the IFS attributes to more working age-women “cohabiting and having children both less frequently and later in life”.
The share of women living with a partner or spouse by age 25 has fallen from more than 80% for women born in the 1940s to less than 60% for women born in the 1970s, while the share of women born in 1975 who had given birth to at least one child by age 25 (31%) is around half that of women born in 1945 (60%),” the report said.
Women are also now less likely to drop out of the labour market even after having children. The proportion of working-age mothers with a job has risen by nearly 50% since 1975.
Employment had increased most amongst those with children pf pre-school or primary school age, as well as single mothers, and the trend is especially prevalent among middle class families. “Only one in five middle class mothers stay at home to bring up their children,” the Daily Mail reported.
According to a separate report in January by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the total number of people on the whole in work is at an all-time high since records began in 1971.
In the three months to November 2017, there were just over 32.2 million people in employment, a 102,000 increase on the previous quarter.
Job vacancies were up by 17,000 to a record high, and unemployment fell by 3,000 to 1.4 million, which is 160,000 lower than a year ago.