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Gender Inequality in Poverty in Affluent Nations: The Role of Single Motherhood and the State


  • Karen Christopher

    (University of Pittsburgh)

  • Paula England

    (University of Pennsylvania)

  • Sara McLanahan

    (Princeton University)

  • Katherin Ross

    (The Urban Institute)

  • Tim Smeeding

    (Syracuse University)


Women have higher poverty rates than men in almost all societies (Casper et al. 1994). In this paper, we compare modern nations on this dimension. We use the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) to compare women's and men's poverty rates in eight Western industrialized countries circa the early 1990s: the United States, Australia, Canada, France, West Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. We define individuals to be in poverty if they live in households with incomes below half the median for their nation. We examine, for each country, the ratio of women?s to men?s poverty rate. We then use simple demographic simulation methods to estimate how this gender disparity is affected by how prevalent single motherhood is, and by state tax and transfer programs that may particularly help households headed by women.

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  • Karen Christopher & Paula England & Sara McLanahan & Katherin Ross & Tim Smeeding, 2000. "Gender Inequality in Poverty in Affluent Nations: The Role of Single Motherhood and the State," Working Papers 976, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
  • Handle: RePEc:pri:crcwel:wp00-12-christopher.pdf

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak, 1996. "Bargaining and Distribution in Marriage," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 139-158, Fall.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jun, Hee-Jin & Acevedo-Garcia, Dolores, 2007. "The effect of single motherhood on smoking by socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 653-666, August.
    2. Bargain, Olivier & Orsini, Kristian, 2006. "In-work policies in Europe: Killing two birds with one stone?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(6), pages 667-697, December.

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