Picture: File men aged 42 from from the poorest fifth of households lived alon

MEN from poor backgrounds are around twice as likely to be single than those from rich families by the time they reach early middle age, research has found.

As well as being more likely to be in highly-paid jobs or even working at all, richer men in their early 40s are also more likely to be living with a partner, according to the findings from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). It found the likelihood of being in a relationship, and a partner's level of earnings, are increasingly related to family background.

In 2012, around one in three (33%) men aged 42 from from the poorest fifth of households lived alone, the research found. This compared with one in seven (15%) of their counterparts from rich backgrounds living without a partner.

Men from low income households were more than twice as likely to be divorced as those from high-income backgrounds, at 11% versus five per cent and nearly twice as likely never to have been married, at 36% versus 20%.

Richer men were also more likely to have higher-earning partners. The partners of men from richer backgrounds tended to earn around 73% more than the partners of men from poorer families, the research found. As women's earnings are an increasingly important part of a household's income, these trends significantly reduce the household incomes of men who grew up in poor families compared with those of men who grew up in rich families, the IFS said.

The report suggested this is quite a "new divide". Among men born 12 years earlier, the differences in partnership status and partner earnings by family background were considerably smaller, the IFS said.
- The Independent