Economic Patterns of Single Mothers Following Their Poverty Exits: Acknowledgments and Introduction. Background and Related Literature


Poverty has been a persistent and relatively common phenomenon in the United States, particularly among single mothers and female-headed families. In a recent assessment of poverty levels and trends using data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) for the period from 1967 through 2003, Hoynes et al. (2004) report that the point-in-time poverty level among the general population remained around 13 percent from 1980 through 2003, despite large increases in the gross domestic product (GDP) during the same time period. Poverty rates for single mothers were even higher. While the annual poverty rate for individuals in families with married parents was 7 percent in 2003, 40 percent of individuals in families with single-parent heads were poor (Hoynes et al. 2004). Similar patterns are found when poverty is measured on a monthly level. For instance, Naifeh (1998) presents descriptive results from the 1993 panel of SIPP that suggest that nearly half of individuals in female-headed households have experienced at least two months of poverty during a two-year analysis period, compared to 14 percent of those in married couple families.

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