Date of Award

Spring 1987

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Sociology & Anthropology

First Advisor

Margaret Stuart

Second Advisor

Robert Piccolo

Third Advisor

Tomas Hamilton

Abstract

Prosperity continues to elude millions of Americans. Not only are the ranks of America's poor growing at an alarming rate, they include an unprecedented concentration of women and children. This dimension of poverty has been coined the "feminization of poverty." Current statistics are staggering: -two out of three poor adults are women. -half of all poor families are headed by women. -one in four children under six is poor. -90% of single parents are women. -one in two children of single mothers is poor. -62% of all poor Americans are women. More than 20 years ago, America launched her War on Poverty. But today, signs of surrender abound. Although overall federal spending has increased, the federal government is no longer a potent force in reducing the ranks of the poor. The flourishing economy of the 1960's provided ideal conditions under which the federal government could enlarge and strengthen existing services for the poor. In addition, many new anti-poverty programs were introduced. However, during the 1970's, America's production economy began to shift toward one of service. The economy began to stagnate as many workers were channelled into low-paying service industry jobs. Individual needs were tabled as growing federal expenditures responded only to the rising number of poor. The service oriented economy continued on this downhill trend resulting in the 1981-82 recession. The poverty rate in 1983 was at 15.3 percent. By 1985, with the economy still in a state of transition and federal spending for the poor declining, the poverty rate dropped to 14.4 percent. However, that figure remains higher than the year before the recession began. Despite the recent post-recession recovery, poverty has not loosened her grip on the increased number of disadvantaged, the majority of which are women and children.

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