The Public Interest

Not all female-headed families are created equal

Alison J. Quin & Douglas J. Besharov

Fall 1987

FOR SOME TIME NOW, we have been hearing about “the feminization of poverty,” a process brought on by the deterioration of families, which leaves single women and mothers destitute. And indeed, there is substantial evidence that women are more often the victims of poverty: Almost half of all female-headed families with children under eighteen are below the poverty line and three-quarters of those families who begin receiving AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) do so because they have become female-headed families.

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