The Increasing Numbers of Those Who Suffer Poverty

Poverty is not limited to age, race, gender, or any other social group. However, there is an ever increasing population of women and children who live in poverty. This has been labeled feminization of poverty by sociologists. Households of unmarried mothers are poorer than those of single fathers (Shepard, 2013, p. 219). There are a number of factors that contribute to the poverty among women and children.

An examination of the U.S. Census Bureau’s findings, Understanding Poverty in America (Rector & Johnson, 2004), father absence is a major component in child poverty.

Additionally, each year over one million children are born out of wedlock. If poor mothers married their child’s father, almost seventy-five percent of children “would immediately be lifted out of poverty”. Work ethic, or lack thereof, is a strong influence on society’s views of the poor.

According to Shepard, a predominant view of the poor in America is they are not frugal and lack proper money management. Lack of effort, ability, and talents of the individual are also seen as reasons for being poor.

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Shepard also lists a number of structural explanations which are perceived reasons for poverty. Specific explanations are low wages in some industries, lack of education opportunities, and lack of jobs available. I personally agree with the view of improper money management and lack of work ethic. For work, I had personally been in homes whose owners were “in poverty”. Several had luxuries such as big screen TVs, lap tops, and internet access that I myself could not afford at the time.

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Often times, no one in the home maintained a job. Interestingly, those were the families who were able to buy groceries on food stamps while I bought mine with a paycheck. Women and children in poverty are typically in single parent, female headed, households.

As mentioned above, low wages are one explanations of poverty and it seems consistent with the feminization of poverty. Shepard notes that women earn seventy-seven cents compared to a man’s dollar. Ideally, this should not be happening, yet it does. Even if a woman is properly managing her funds, overall, she honestly has less money to support her household. To help offset this difference, she may obtain welfare, food stamps, or other assistance from the government. This assistance can be a major stumbling block in the process of single mothers becoming productive citizens. As Rector and Johnson explained, marriage would reduce child poverty by almost seventy-five percent. However, this assistance is given in the greatest amount when there are single mother situations. What motivation is there to wed? If individuals can live comfortably by receiving aid, what is the purpose of going into the work field? I believe the feminization of poverty will be a long lasting concern simply because it is so engrained in our society. In general, we feel much more sympathetic for a single mother than we do for a single father. We see her hardships are more extreme than a man’s. We have high expectations for a male to be successful in supporting a family and hold much lower expectations for females. I think these lower expectations can be self-fulfilling prophecies for women, less is expected, so less is achieved.

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The Increasing Numbers of Those Who Suffer Poverty. (2022, Apr 19). Retrieved from

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