Persistent low income

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • out of all ethnic groups, people in Asian or Other households were the most likely to be in persistent low income before housing costs over the period from January 2015 to December 2019

  • out of all ethnic groups, people in Black or Other households were most likely to be in persistent low income, after housing costs

  • people in White households were least likely out of all ethnic groups to be in persistent low income, both before and after housing costs

2. Things you need to know

The data shows the percentage of people living in households in the UK that are in ‘persistent low income’ before and after housing costs. Housing costs include rent and mortgage payments. There is large regional variation in ethnic minority populations. There is also regional variation in housing costs, and this may mean that some households have bigger differences in their income before and after housing costs than others.

Households are in low income if they live on less than 60% of the median income. Median income was around £29,000 for a couple with no children in the period from January 2018 to December 2019, before housing costs.

Persistent low income means the household had low income for at least 3 out of 4 consecutive survey interviews between January 2015 and December 2019. Read more about how entry into and exit from low income is calculated.

Low income entry and exit rates are percentages of individuals who move into or out of low income across two survey periods. This page presents these rates averaged over 3 two survey periods, because this makes the ethnicity analysis more reliable.

The data relates to households of either one person or a group of people sharing cooking facilities and a living room or dining area. It must be their main or only home.

The data uses the total income brought into the household on a weekly basis by everyone who lives there.

Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number.

Not included in the data

Data based on fewer than 100 responses has not been included. Percentages less than 0.5% have been suppressed. This is to protect people’s confidentiality.

The ethnic groups used in the data

Data is shown for 6 aggregated ethnic groups:

  • Asian
  • Black
  • Mixed
  • White British
  • White Other
  • Other

Some households contain people from different ethnic backgrounds. The ethnicity assigned to the household is that of the ‘household reference person' (usually the person with the highest income). The data does not account for people of different ethnic backgrounds who live in the same household.

Data for people living in households with unknown ethnicity is included in the estimates for ‘All’.

Methodology

Read the [Income Dynamics Background information and methodology note] (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/income-dynamics-2010-to-2019/income-dynamics-background-information-and-methodology) for more information about the data on this page.

Household incomes are adjusted (or ‘equivalised’) to take into account the number of adults and children who live there.

The figures on this page are based on survey data. Find out more about:

In the data file

See Download the data for:

  • January 2010 to December 2019

  • persistent low income estimates based on both 60% and 70% of median income

  • persistent low income estimates before and after housing costs

3. By ethnicity (before housing costs)

Percentage of people living in households with persistent low income before housing costs, by ethnicity
Ethnicity % Number of respondents
All 9 27,159
Asian 17 2,154
Black 15 794
Mixed 14 296
White 9 23,020
White British 9 21,742
White other 8 1,278
Other 19 143

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity (before housing costs)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity (before housing costs)’ (CSV)

Summary of Persistent low income By ethnicity (before housing costs) Summary

The data shows that, before housing costs:

  • 19% of people in Other households, and 17% of people in Asian households were in persistent low income – the highest percentages out of all ethnic groups

  • 9% of people in White households were in persistent low income – the lowest percentage out of all ethnic groups

4. By ethnicity (after housing costs)

Percentage of people living in households with persistent low income after housing costs, by ethnicity
Ethnicity % Number of respondents
All 13 27,159
Asian 22 2,154
Black 25 794
Mixed 22 296
White 12 23,020
White British 12 21,742
White other 14 1,278
Other 36 143

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity (after housing costs)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity (after housing costs)’ (CSV)

Summary of Persistent low income By ethnicity (after housing costs) Summary

The data shows that, after housing costs:

  • 36% of people in Other ethnic group households, and 25% of people in Black households were in persistent low income – the highest percentages out of all ethnic groups

  • 12% of people living in White households were in persistent low income – the lowest percentage out of all ethnic groups

5. By ethnicity and age group (before housing costs)

Percentage of people living in households with persistent low income before housing costs, by ethnicity and age group
All Children Working-age adults Pensioners
Ethnicity All % All Number of respondents Children % Children Number of respondents Working-age adults % Working-age adults Number of respondents Pensioners % Pensioners Number of respondents
All 9 27,159 12 6,114 8 14,719 12 6,326
Asian 17 2,154 27 791 12 1,220 14 143
Black 15 794 22 247 11 453 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 94
Mixed 14 296 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 92 12 179 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 25
White 9 23,020 11 4,778 7 12,335 12 5,907
White British 9 21,742 10 4,457 7 11,632 12 5,653
White other 9 1,278 16 321 7 703 9 254
Other 19 143 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 47 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 78 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 18

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and age group (before housing costs)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and age group (before housing costs)’ (CSV)

Summary of Persistent low income By ethnicity and age group (before housing costs) Summary

The data shows that, before housing costs:

  • children in Asian (27%) and Black (22%) households were more likely to be in persistent low income than children in White (11%) households

  • working-age adults in Asian and Mixed households (both 12%) were more likely to be in persistent low income than those in White households (7%)

  • 14% of pensioners in Asian households were in persistent low income

  • data based on smaller numbers is less reliable, and percentages for some ethnic groups that are based on small numbers have been suppressed

6. By ethnicity and age group (after housing costs)

Percentage of people living in households in persistent low income after housing costs, by ethnicity and age group
All Children Working-age adults Pensioners
Ethnicity All % All Number of respondents Children % Children Number of respondents Working-age adults % Working-age adults Number of respondents Pensioners % Pensioners Number of respondents
All 13 27,159 19 6,114 11 14,719 11 6,326
Asian 22 2,154 33 791 17 1,220 12 143
Black 25 794 31 247 21 453 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 94
Mixed 22 296 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 92 20 179 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 25
White 12 23,020 17 4,778 10 12,335 11 5,907
White British 12 21,742 17 4,457 10 11,632 10 5,653
White other 14 1,278 23 321 10 703 15 254
Other 36 143 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 47 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 78 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 18

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and age group (after housing costs)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and age group (after housing costs)’ (CSV)

Summary of Persistent low income By ethnicity and age group (after housing costs) Summary

The data shows that, after housing costs:

  • children in Asian (33%) and Black (31%) households were more likely to be in persistent low income than children in White households (17%)

  • working-age adults in Black (21%) and Mixed (20%) households were more likely to be in persistent low income than those from other ethnic groups

  • White Other pensioners (15%) were more likely to be in persistent low income than Asian (12%) or White British (10%) pensioners

  • data based on smaller numbers is less reliable, and percentages for some ethnic groups that are based on small numbers have been suppressed

7. Entering low income (before and after housing costs)

Percentage of people living in households entering low income before and after housing costs, by ethnicity
Before Housing Costs After Housing Costs
Ethnicity Before Housing Costs % Before Housing Costs Number of Respondents After Housing Costs % After Housing Costs Number of Respondents
All 5 78,927 7 76,252
Asian 10 5,324 12 4,929
Black 10 2,225 14 1,905
Mixed 9 878 13 746
White 5 67,405 6 65,713
White British 5 63,704 6 62,168
White other 5 3,701 7 3,545
Other 4 406 11 335

Download table data for ‘Entering low income (before and after housing costs)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Entering low income (before and after housing costs)’ (CSV)

Summary of Persistent low income Entering low income (before and after housing costs) Summary

An individual is counted as having entered low income if they moved from not being in low income in one survey period to being in low income in the next survey period. The data shown presents average rates of low income entry for the surveys that took place between 2015 and 2019.

The data shows that, on average:

  • all ethnic groups were more likely to enter into low income after housing costs were paid
  • people in Asian and Black households (both 10%) were most likely to enter into low income before housing costs
  • people in Black households (14%) were also most likely to enter into low income after housing costs
  • people in the Other (4%) and White (5%) households were least likely to enter into low income before housing costs
  • people in White (6%) households were least likely to enter into low income after housing costs

8. Leaving low income (before and after housing costs)

Percentage of people living in households leaving low income before and after housing costs, by ethnicity
Before Housing Costs After Housing Costs
Ethnicity Before Housing Costs % Before Housing Costs Number of Respondents After Housing Costs % After Housing Costs Number of Respondents
All 34 13,474 31 16,149
Asian 31 2,343 27 2,738
Black 30 643 25 963
Mixed 37 180 26 312
White 34 9,952 31 11,644
White British 34 9,433 32 10,969
White other 32 519 29 675
Other 16 111 7 182

Download table data for ‘Leaving low income (before and after housing costs)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Leaving low income (before and after housing costs)’ (CSV)

Summary of Persistent low income Leaving low income (before and after housing costs) Summary

An individual is counted as having left low income if they moved from being in low income in one survey period to not being in low income in the next survey period. The data shown here presents average rates of leaving low income for the surveys that took place between 2015 and 2019.

The data shows that, on average:

  • all ethnic groups were more likely to leave low income before housing costs were paid

  • people in Mixed (37%) households were most likely to leave low income out of all ethnic groups before housing costs

  • people in White British (32%) households were most likely to leave low income after housing costs

  • people in Other households were least likely to leave low income before (16%) and after (7%) housing costs – however, the numbers for this group are too small to make reliable generalisations

9. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

Official statistics

Publisher

Department for Work and Pensions

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

Income Dynamics statistics are designed to report on income movements and the persistence of low income for various population groups. Reporting on persistent low income rates for children is required under UK law.

Income Dynamics statistics complement Households Below Average Income (HBAI) statistics by providing measures which are based on household income over time. This is because they use data from the longitudinal survey ‘Understanding Society’.

10. Download the data

Persistent low income data - Spreadsheet (csv) 190 KB

This file contains the following: measure, ethnicity, year, age group, value, number

Entries and exits data - Spreadsheet (csv) 51 KB

This file contains the following: measure, ethnicity, year, value, number