Saturday, January 29, 2011

The workless counter culture

In general, I feel a lot of sympathy for the unemployed. I even feel sorry for the recidivistic element, who have little or no intention of going out and earning their way in the world. A life on benefits, even if it is a choice, is still a miserable way of living.

There is however another, somewhat smaller group, that fascinates me - "the never worked". It is a group that has been growing fairly consistently for the last decade or so. Excluding student households, there are about a quarter of a million homes where every adult living there has never held down a job. In numerical terms, these workless homes contain around 374,000 adults.

Not all of them fit neatly into pre-conceived stereotype of a benefit-dependent idler. A small number are home owners, suggesting independent non-labour income sources. A large number live in central London, which for the most part, isn't a cheap place to live.

Nevertheless, there is one very disturbing statistic. There are also around a quarter of a million children, less than 16 years old, living in these households. This might explain why the number is growing; workless adults passing the non-work ethnic to their offspring.

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