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The Origins of the Feminization of Poverty The United Nations Development Fund for Women reports that women are still the poorest of the worlds poor representing 70 of the 13 billion people who live in absolute poverty They also estimate that nearly 900 million women in the world have incomes of less than 1 a day In the United States alone women are about 50 percent more likely to be poor than men The feminization of poverty in America has steadily increased since the 1950s Researchers have investigated the reasons for this increase citing everything from teenage pregnancy to the rise in deadbeat dads Over the last thirty-five years there have been several trends in our society that have contributed to the feminization of poverty In 1978 Diana Pearce published a paper citing that poverty in America was becoming more and more feminized She cited that almost two-thirds of the poor over the age of 16 were women Pearce also claimed that even though there were more women entering the labor force between 1950 and the mid-1970s womens economic status had declined She argued that the blame for this feminization of poverty belonged to the government because of their lack of support for divorced and single women She argued for many the price of that independence has been their pauperization and dependence on welfare McLanahan 1 Further examination of the issue has shown that various changes in the family have contributed to the feminization of poverty The last thirty years has seen a steady increase in the amount of children born outside of wedlock In 1960 about six percent of all births were to unmarried couples whereas by 1996 over a third fell into this category McLanahan 5 This influx of births to single mothers has weighed greatly on women in poverty The statistics of children born to unmarried black couples is even more dramatic increasing from 22 in 1960 to 70
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