2 April 2014, 15:03

US: women earn more, but families getting dirt poor – study

US: women earn more, but families getting dirt poor – study

US families are getting dirt poor, even though women are earning more, according to the most recent report from the PEW Economic Mobility Project. Although the number of women in the labor-force has made way for a surge in "financial security and mobility" for millions of families since the 1970s, new economic opportunities for females have not emerged for poor and working-class family units.

One solid reason as to why lower-income families are losing momentum in the economic sector is because the increase in women's income has been counterbalanced by the decrease in marriage for the poor and working class portion of society. Over 50 percent of such families have only one head of household, usually a single mother. Without the income of two parents being funneled into the family, or more likely the income of a father, single-parent families have less of a chance of enjoying the benefits of a higher income from the working women's wages of today.

This explains why single-mother families have a higher likelihood of struggling to cover all their bills. To illustrate, one approximation pointed out that the average income for married families in 2013 was around $81,000. For single mothers, that income bracket dropped to $25,000 on an annual basis.

On the other side of the fence, families in the middle and upper income group, women's work has mostly meant more family income because the marriage is stable and secure. If two-parent households have each individual bringing home a lucrative paycheck, then the reason the wealthy continue to get and stay wealthy is because they are more likely to get and stay married. Profits are profound with the benefits of pooling two high incomes together if compared to families further down on the ladder, which often rely on low income from just one parent.

"Matrimony is flourishing among the rich but floundering among the poor, leading to a large, corresponding ‘marriage gap,'" Richard Reeves, policy director of Brookings' Center on Children and Families said, according to The Atlantic. Yet another contributing factor that feeds into poverty for the bottom 40 percent are the declining wages men are receiving. Incomes are mostly decreasing for men in the poor or working class category.

In particular men, who are classified as poor or working class, have taken a severe hit as their wages have fallen. Boyfriends and husbands then have less money to bring home than they used to and this is an especially important piece of information. Pew report points out that men's income rates in couple-headed family units are close to "twice as important as those of their female partners for boosting family income."

The drop in men's wages for this income bracket also helps realize why poor and working-class mothers are not tying the knot or staying married as much as those who earn higher salaries. This is because they usually pair off with men who are in an economic situation close to their own— poor and working-class women have a lower percentage of seeing men in their lives as marriage material or worth giving a try in the marriage department.

The study seems to tell us that men's wages are a strong predictor of marriage and keeping away from filing divorce papers. Men's income is still important when it comes to the creation and sustainability of marriage. Debilitating incomes that poor and working-class men get translates into the chances they will be deemed as worthy enough to get married to.

Women, although having come a long way in America, continue to struggle when they need to pay their bills and more importantly, feed their families. This rings especially true for poor and working-class women, who are the only heads of their households. Not only are women's wages in turmoil, so are men's as pays have been slashed which seems to translate as a slim to none chance of getting married and staying that way.

Voice of Russia, The Atlantic, Pewstates.org

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