Key findings / Families under pressure

Families under pressure

We have already seen that, in spite of its profound consequences for people's lives, the recession has not led to increased sympathy for those who have fallen on hard times. Our Work and wellbeing chapter describes how, not surprisingly, feelings of job insecurity have become more widespread, with only around a quarter (23 per cent) saying it is "very true" that their job is secure, down from 32 per cent in 2004. This decline has been almost entirely experienced by women; in 2004 they were far more likely than men to describe their job as secure, but now there is little difference between the sexes.

undefinedDemands in the workplace have also increased somewhat. Nearly nine in ten (88 per cent) workers agree that their "job requires them to work very hard", up from 78 per cent in 2004. Meanwhile, the rewards of work have decreased; one in five (22 per cent) have taken a pay cut in the last three years, while a quarter (24 per cent) say they have "had to do less interesting work".

These trends cannot be good news for families. As well as reductions in pay and in the average number of paid working hours, more people report working unsocial hours, and there have been small but significant increases in the proportions of people saying that they worry about work when they are at home. Eight in ten (80 per cent) say they "keep worrying about work problems" when they are not working, up from 73 per cent in 2004.

British Social Attitudes has charted a huge decline over the last three decades in traditional views about gender roles (Crompton and Lyonette, 2008). This decline continues: only 10 per cent of working men and women agree that "when jobs are scarce, men should have more right to a job than women", down from 15 per cent in 2004. It is clear that the recession and its impact on households has done nothing to reinforce traditional views of men's and women's work roles, and may even have eroded them further.