POOR men are more likely to be single in their 40s, according to new research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

The paper by the highly respected think tank claims a third of men from disadvantaged backgrounds live alone, compared to just one-in-seven men from wealthier backgrounds.

According to researcher this has led to a cycle of poverty lasting generations.

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While the wealthier men live with someone else, and live on two incomes, the poorest men are sometimes lucky to have just one source of income. This is in part, the researchers say, down to lower rates of marriage and higher rates of relationship breakdown.

Men from low-income households were more than twice as likely to be divorced as those from high-income backgrounds, and almost twice as likely never to have been married.

Though even among men in couples, the partners of men from richer backgrounds earn 73 per cent more than the partners of men from poorer families.

It means that the gap between the richest and poorest men in the UK is widening. In 2012, employed 42-year-old men whose parents were among the richest fifth of households earned on average 88 per cent more than those from the poorest families. In 2000, the equivalent gap for men of the same age was 47 per cent.

The paper also says as women earn more money, it increases the poverty gap between the richest and the poorest and has slowed down the move of people from working class to middle class.

The IFS say that among men born 12 years earlier, “the differences in partnership status and partner earnings by family background were considerably smaller”.

And if you’re born poor, you’re more likely to be out of work. While only seven per cent of men growing up in the richest fifth of households were out of work at age 42 in 2012, more than 15 per cent of men from the poorest fifth of households were out of work.

Chris Belfield, a research economist at IFS and an author of the paper, said: “Focusing solely on the earnings of men in work understates the importance of family background in determining living standards. As well as having higher earnings, those from richer families are more likely to be in work”.