Poverty, Gender, and Public Policies

Cynthia Hess, Ph.D., Stephanie Román

February 29, 2016
  • ID: IWPR #D505

Economic security is a critical part of women’s overall well-being that contributes to their educational attainment, health, family stability, and community engagement. Over the last few decades, women’s increased labor force participation, education, and earnings have helped many women attain economic security. Yet, a substantial number of women in the United States face economic hardship: approximately one in six adult women have family incomes below the federal poverty line. Multiple factors contribute to women’s economic insecurity, including the gender wage gap, women’s prevalence in low-paid occupations, a lack of work-family supports, and the challenges involved in accessing public benefits.
This briefing paper presents some basic facts about women’s economic security and explores the causes of poverty among women and the ways that the effects of poverty reverberate throughout families’ lives. It concludes by examining strategies to improve women’s economic security and reduce poverty.