Moving in and out of in-work poverty in the UK: an analysis of transitions, trajectories and trigger events

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

Journal of Social Policy


Rod Hick and Alba Lanau

Publication date


There is growing concern about the problem of in-work poverty in the UK. Despite this, the literature on in-work poverty remains small in comparison with that on low pay and, in particular, we know relatively little about how people move in and out of in-work poverty. This paper presents an analysis of in-work poverty transitions in the UK, and extends the literature in this field in a number of identified ways. The paper finds that in-work poverty is more transitory than poverty amongst working-age adults more generally, and that the number of workers in the household is a particularly strong predictor of in-work poverty transitions. For most, in-work poverty is a temporary phenomenon, and most exits are by exiting poverty while remaining in work. However, our study finds that respondents who experience in-work poverty are three times more likely than non-poor workers to become workless, while one-quarter of respondents in workless, poor families who gained work entered in-work poverty. These findings demonstrate the limits to which work provides a route out of poverty, and points to the importance of trying to support positive transitions while minimising negative shocks faced by working poor families.

Volume and page numbers

47, 661-682





Labour Market, Households, Poverty and Life Course Analysis