restricted access 12. Status of Women
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12 Status of Women 12.1 WOME N I N POVERT Y The Population Referenc e Burea u (PRB) , with the support of the Ford Foundation, analyze d and publishe d dat a o n wome n fro m th e Publi c Us e Microdat a Sampl e o f th e 199 0 census, data that woul d otherwis e have been unavailabl e du e to budget cuts . Particularly valuabl e is the fact tha t th e sampl e dat a analyze d an d published b y PR B ar e broken dow n no t only by state but by racial and ethnic origin. One section in the data analysis was concerned with how income and poverty are changing for women. During the 1980s, women who worked increased their annua l earning s b y abou t 2 0 percent, compare d wit h 3 percent fo r men . More wome n were i n th e wor k forc e an d wer e workin g longe r hours . Despite this gain, three-fifths o f all adults living in poverty in 199 0 were women. Poverty was a problem especiall y i n th e younges t an d oldes t ag e groups , a s show n below . Eac h o f these group s ha s its own particula r problems ; young wome n ar e often thos e heading single parent families and caring for fatherless children. Older women, those over 65, and particularly those over 75, grew up in decades when most women marrie d an d husbands wer e the majo r earners. Women have greater life expectancy than men; thus many of these older women were widows, som e withou t adequat e means . Th e dat a sho w tha t 1 5 percent o f al l wome n ove r 65 i n 199 0 wer e livin g belo w th e povert y line ; this numbe r ros e t o 3 6 percent fo r Africa n American women . For whites, African Americans , Hispanics, and Native Americans , the percentage of women 1 8 and over living in poverty exceeded the percentage for men. Only among Asian American s wer e th e percentage s equal . The map shows regional variations in the percentage of women living in poverty; the major factors influencing differences wer e age composition and ethnic composition of the population. For the country a s a whole, the percentage of wome n 1 8 and over living in poverty i n 199 0 was 13.2 . This varied from high s of over 25 percent in Mississippi an d nearly 2 4 percent in Louisiana to only 7 percent in Connecticut. In the high category (ove r 14%) are two regions, a large one extending acros s the souther n par t of the country an d a northern cluste r of three states, the Dakotas and Montana. The low category (less than 11. 5 percent) includes the familiar bloc of states along the Atlantic Coast from New Hampshire to Virginia (in this case excluding New York) . It als o includes Minnesota an d Wisconsin , Alask a and Hawaii, Washington , an d Nevada. Man y state s i n th e interio r o f th e countr y fal l int o th e middl e category . WOMEN AND MEN IN POVERTY, BY AGE GROUP, 1990 21.9 • 14. 6 PERCENT Source: Population Reference Bureau, What the 1990 Census Tells Us About Women, 1993 , Figure 4 172 12.1 WOME N I N POVERT Y PERCENT O F WOME N AG E 1 8 AN D OLDE R LIVIN G I N POVERTY , 199 0 173 12.2 INCOM E DISPARIT Y I N PROFESSIONAL OCCUPATION S There ar e many measure s tha t ma y be used, an d in fact hav e bee n use d b y researchers, to assess the status of women. Many of them compare women to men on various indicators, such as leve l o f education. On e issue or rallying cr y that i s agreed upo n b y almost al l women, whether conservative housewives or radical feminists, is equal pay for equal work. W e have selected incom e disparit y betwee n wome n an d men as an indicator o f women's status , and have mappe d incom e disparit...


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Social conditions -- 1980- -- Statistics.
  • United States -- Population -- Statistics.
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