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Key points

  • There is limited data on women and poverty, because income is measured at the household level. However, other research suggests women are vulnerable to poverty, partly as a result of the gender pay gap and caring responsibilities.
  • Single parent households are likely to live below the poverty line. Most are headed by women.
  • Women are 11 percentage points more likely to be workless than men in London. The gaps are much wider for London women born in some other countries.

The indicators on the right-hand side of this page are where there is data broken down by gender.


Because income poverty is measured at the household level, it is challenging to look at a gender breakdown. However, data on related indicators is available, showing for example, that worklessness is higher among women than men. While more women are in work or seeking work than a decade ago, the number of women in low paid jobs is also rising.

In addition, because of the small size of samples in surveys, there is a lack of reliable data to compare men and women in London, particularly at sub-regional and borough level.

An excellent summary of the evidence about gender and UK poverty is available from the Department of Social Policy at Oxford University. You can also find out more about women and poverty in the UK from the charity, Fawcett.


There is not a separate poverty rate for women. However, the data does tell us that single parent families have a particularly high rate of poverty: 53% of single parent households in London are living in poverty. This amounts to 350,000 people; 340,000 of whom are women. More information about single parents is available from the charity Gingerbread.


Over the past two decades there has been the convergence in the unemployment rate between men and women. In the 1990s, on average 38% of the unemployed were women. In the last five years, the average is up to 46%. This is linked to an increase in the proportion of women who are economically active either in work or looking for work.

When looking at worklessness rate of people in London by country of birth, workless rates for women are higher than for men for all countries except for Jamaica. On average worklessness rates for women are 11 percentage points higher than men in London. These differences between genders are explained by levels of economic inactivity, which suggests that women take on caring responsibilities rather than paid work. But this gap between women and men differs dramatically between different countries of birth: for example, female worklessness among those born in Nigeria is four percentage points higher than for men, whereas it is 56 percentage points higher for those born in Bangladesh.

Find out more about women and work in London.


In 2014, the biggest group among the low-paid were women in part-time jobs accounting for with 220,000 jobs or 32% of the total in London. There were another 160,000 women in low-paid full time jobs. Between 2010 and 2014 the number of women in low paid jobs in London increased by 150,000: 77,000 was full-time jobs and 70,000 were part-time.

Find out more about women and low pay.

You may also be interested in research for Oxfam on women in the UK labour market.

Life Expectancy

Women have longer life expectancy than men - and women in London are likely to live longer than the average for England & Wales. Although the gap in life expectancy between the most and least deprived areas is lower for women than for men, there are still substantial gaps between different boroughs. For example, life expectancy for women in Kensington and Chelsea is almost four years longer than women in Barking and Dagenham.

Find out more about life expectancy in London