Living on social benefits often passed on from one generation to the next

22/01/2015 15:00

Children growing up in families living on social benefits often have a lower level of education at thirty  than their peers. Irrespective of education level, the number of children from households living on social benefits who receive benefits later in life is also above average. There are various reasons for this phenomenon, e.g. it may be genetically determined or it may be the set of norms and values an individual grows up with. Sons and daughters are most often high-educated and employed, if they were raised in families with working parents or a working father and a mother with no income of her own.

More than half of children have two working parents

Just over half of children born in 1983 had two working parents. In 3 in 10 cases, only the father worked and the mother had no income of her own and mostly looked after home and children. In 16 percent of cases, one or both parents received unemployment, disability or social security benefits. In this category, one quarter of children had two parents for whom benefits were their main source of income.

Young women better educated than young men

On average, women born in 1983 were better educated in 2012 than their male counterparts; 44 percent of women born in 1983 have a high level of education, versus 34 percent of men. Men are also more often low-educated than women (18 versus 13 percent).
The Emancipation Monitor 2014 also shows that younger generations of women are better educated than men of the same age, although the subjects they studied vary considerably. Men more often choose science, women often choose studies related to care or education.

Children from two-income households have highest level of education

Children are most successful in education, if both parents were employed when their children were in education. The level of education of these children is more often above average and it is rarer for them to be low-educated. If both parents are living on benefits, the children often perform poorly at school; 35 percent of adult sons and 31 percent of adult daughters in this situation are low-educated.

Children born in 1983 by highest education level in 2012 and socio-economic position of the parents in 1999

Children born in 1983 by highest education level in 2012 and socio-economic position of the parents in 1999
Many children of benefit recipients later also become benefit-dependent; daughters more often than sons

Fewer women than men are economically independent. The number of single mothers is also significantly higher than the number of single fathers and single mothers much more often live on (social security) benefits. It appears that, irrespective of the socio-economic position of the parents, women around the age of thirty slightly more often than men in the same age category depend on benefits as their major source of income (one average 10 percent of women versus 8 percent of men). These percentages are lower, if both parents were employed and significantly higher, if both parents were benefit claimants. If both parents lived on benefits, 24 percent of men and 27 percent of women also received benefits.

Share benefit recipients in 2012 among children born in 1983 by socio-economic position of the parents in 1999

Share benefit recipients in 2012 among children born in 1983 by socio-economic position of the parents in 1999

Inter-generational relation benefit dependency mainly found among low-educated

Benefit dependency occurred much more often among low-educated men and especially women around the age of thirty than among men and women educated at secondary or higher level. If low-educated people grew up in families with parent(s) living on benefits, the share of adult sons and daughters also claiming benefits was even higher; this applied to 34 percent for low-educate sons and more than 40 percent of low-educated daughters. The shares are lower for secondary and high-educated adult children, but still much higher than for sons and daughters with two working parents.

Share benefit recipients in 2012 among children born in 1983 by level of education and socio-economic position of the parents in 1999

Share benefit recipients in 2012 among children born in 1983 by level of education and socio-economic position of the parents in 1999

Socio-economic position parents not the only factor

Figures show that there is a distinct relation between the socio-economic position of the parents and the performance level at school of the children. Young people who attained a high level of education have better chances on the job market, but regardless of education level, more children from parents who lived on benefits at the time they were in education, are later also forced to live on benefits, because children resemble their parents in many aspects, like work ethic, personal competence and ambitions with respect to their working career.