Économie et Statistique n° 349-350 - 2001The European panel: a new statistical source on households
Working Poor Labour Market Profiles and Family Characteristics
Working poor numbers vary considerably depending on the poverty line chosen and the length of time on the labour market. In 1994, a threshold set at 60% of the median income per consumer unit found 3.7 million working poor (on the labour market at least half the year and living in a poor household). The first four waves of the European Panel (1994 to 1997) provide the information required to study how these people alternate between employment and non-employment and the links between working profile and poverty risk. The working poor's three-year profiles seem relatively stable: nearly two thirds were in the same category (employment, alternating employment/non-employment and non-employment) in 1994 and 1997. However, the term «working poor» covers extremely diverse people in terms of situations and working trajectories: four in ten were in constant employment over the four years observed whereas one in ten were never employed. A study of five working categories confirms the link between working profile and poverty risk. However, one and the same working profile is associated with disparate poverty risks depending on the family configuration. In particular, having a husband out of the labour force reduces the probability of rising above the poverty line, regardless of the number of children. Family factors would also appear to determine the greater differences in the probabilities of rising above the poverty line.