Women with children hit harder than men by austerity budgets

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Women with children hit harder than men by austerity budgets


Impact: Dr Karina Doorley said child benefit cuts hit women harder
Impact: Dr Karina Doorley said child benefit cuts hit women harder

Women with children were hit harder than men by a series of austerity budgets.

This is largely due to the fact that women are more likely to be lone parents than men, according to research from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

But even within couples, the last decade of budgetary policy resulted in reductions to women’s disposable income compared to that of their spouse, particularly in households with children.

Women with children were hit hard by cuts in child benefit and other welfare payment reductions.

This is in contrast to budgetary policy that affected single men and women without children in a similar manner.

The study found little evidence of a gender difference in the impact of budgetary policy for men and women who engage in paid work.

However, lone parents lost proportionally more due to budgetary policy over the last decade than singles without children.

The ESRI said most lone parents are women. ESRI researcher Dr Karina Doorley said most of the gender difference in the impact of budgetary policy was down to reductions in child benefit and other welfare payments during the austerity period.

The fact that welfare payments failed to keep pace with inflation during the recovery period also had an impact.

Child benefit was as high as €166 per child in 2009, but a number of cuts saw it reduced to €130 in 2013. It has come back up to €140 per child.

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Dr Doorley said much of the differential impact of tax and benefit changes was concentrated in the lower half of the income distribution.

“That is, in instances where women lost out by more than men, the difference was most noticeable when comparing women and men from low-income households,” she said in the report, which was commissioned by Parliamentary Budget Office.

She said that although tax and welfare policies did not typically differentiate based on gender, they could affect men and women differently.

“Men tend to have higher earnings than women, resulting in different income tax liabilities and benefit entitlement,” Dr Doorley said.

“The gender budgeting tool developed in this project will allow an assessment of the gender impact of any future budgetary changes, an important step in promoting gender equality in Ireland.”

Irish Independent

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