NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Feminization of Poverty?

Victor R. Fuchs

NBER Working Paper No. 1934
Issued in May 1986
NBER Program(s):   LS

This paper uses Census of Population and Current Population Survey data

to describe and analyze the sex-incidence of poverty in 1959, 1969, 1979,

and 1984 according to a fixed standard and a standard that changes with

national per capita real income. The popular view that there was a large

increase in the percent of adult poor who are women and that this trend has

accelerated in recent years is not supported by the data. There was

considerable feminization of poverty in the 1960s, but in the 1970s the sex

mix of poverty was relatively constant, and between 1979 and 1984 women's

share decreased. The trend in feminization was more severe for blacks than

for whites, primarily as a result of disparate trends in the 1970s.

Statistical decomposition of the changes shows that an increase in the

proportion of women in households without men was the principal source of

feminization of poverty and the principal reason why the trend was more

adverse for blacks than whites.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w1934

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