The Formation of a Female Underclass

Susan Thistle

in From Marriage to the Market

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2006 | ISBN: 9780520245907
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520939196 | DOI:
The Formation of a Female Underclass

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This chapter provides a new explanation of the rise in female-headed families among the poor. It explains that the economic hardship faced by single mothers is generally perceived as changing little over time, stemming simply from the loss of marriage and burdens of single parenthood. This study instead views the “feminization of poverty” as a dynamic process, placing it in the context of women's historic transition from household to paid work. It explains that close examination of women's poverty from such a perspective reveals heretofore unseen changes in the causes and composition of such hardship over time. It demonstrates how marriage as a means of resolving such poverty is a solution better suited to the 1950s than today.

Keywords: female-headed families; economic hardship; single mothers; marriage; feminization of poverty; paid work

Chapter.  6907 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Marriage and the Family

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