Single Mothers in Poverty
There are many social, economic as well as political challenges that face the human species on a daily basis. This is more so in third world countries of the world, who are still struggling to improve their citizens’ lives. However, this does not mean that countries who are rated among the best developed in the world do not also face these challenges. Developed countries rend to have more advanced economic as well as democratic political systems than the developing ones as well as the ones in the third world category. However, this does not mean that developed countries do not experience socio-economic or even political challenges. In relation to this context, we will address poverty in the United States, which one of the most developed countries in the world. We will also look at the efforts of the federal government in trying to curb poverty in the United States single mother as well as other groups in the country. We will also try and determine whether these efforts are working in curbing poverty in this country
There are many families who are living in abject poverty in the United States of America (Beland, Daniel & Alex 13). Many people in the world take the United States as a country where there are no socio-economic problems. Well, that is not the case because this country has its share of challenges just like any other in the world. Single mother in the United States of America face many political as well as socio-economic ones (Rycroft 29). According to Rycroft, (36), the number of single mothers in the United States is on the rise, creating a population of economically crippled population. This is because; most of these mothers are forced to divert all their attention in raising their children, neglecting many socio-economic practices that would help in improving their livelihoods. Research done in 2012 by the U.S census Bureau on this matter showed that that single women were at a higher risk of being poor while compared to their married counterparts (Rycroft 57). In fact, this research put the rate of poverty in single women at four times higher than that of married ones. This research also put the rate of single others living in poverty in the United States of America at 30 percent. This is a very disturbing number as it is almost a third of all single moms in this country, and we all know that this number continues to rise on a daily basis. In fact, this was an increase in the poverty levels in single mothers as the same census bureau had put the poverty percentage of single mothers at 29.9% in 2010 (Beland, Daniel & Alex 19).
This number was much lower in married couples making many people wonder whether marriage is a solution in addressing poverty in women. The U.S Census Bureau put the poverty rate in married women at just 6.2 percent in 2010 as compared to 29.9% in single mothers (Beland, Daniel & Alex 68). This was one of the reasons as to why many parties were trying to figure out whether the matter could be addressed by marriages. In fact, many experts argued that children brought up by single mothers were in greater socio-economic challenges than those brought up by married women (Hoffman, 94). This was in terms of welfare dependency, criminal activities, academic difficulties as well as many other social ills. However, this does not mean that children who are raised in these married families are exempted from their share of social ills in the society. As a result, the perception of marriage of poverty as a sole solution to the poverty levels in single mothers as well as in their children became a controversial topic. In fact, this perception drew a huge controversy as issues like divorce, assaults and many other unhealthy means of bringing up children in, can also lead them into committing crimes in the society (Blair 30). This is especially if they were being brought up in unhappy marriages. This can also make them deteriorate in education as well as lead them in committing other social ills.
As if that was not enough, the 2010 census also showed that single moms were also more likely to be living in abject poverty when compared to single fathers (Beland, Daniel & Alex 68). In fact, research has it that only 16.4 percent of single dads live in poverty as compared to 30 percent of single moms. Research has also showed that the living conditions of single mothers are inferior to those of single dads in the United States in almost all socio-economic aspects (Crane & Tim 56). For instance, single moms’ families only take home $34,002 as their medial annual income while single dads take home $46,634 in the same period. To make matters worse, research also has it that there are more single mother families than single dads’ in the United States. This means that the poverty percentage in the United States would also reflect negatively in the female population, more than in their male counterparts (Rycroft 65). In fact, a research done in 2012 put the total poverty percentage rate of men at 11 percent. This number was even high in women as it went up to 14.5 percent.
According to National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) reports on poverty rate in 2012, Hispanic and black women were at a higher risk of poverty in the United States as compared to other races (Rycroft 97). In fact, the NWLC put the poverty rate in black women at 25.1 percent while Hispanic women followed closely at 25.8 percent. The National Women’s Law Center also concluded that men were better to do in all the economic aspects than women. This is regardless of their race, origin and educational qualifications among other factors. The NWLC believes that this consistence is portrayed across all ages. For starters, it is believed that girls below 18 yrs are more likely to live in poorer households as compared to young boys of the same age. The organization believes that the same aspect repeats itself in populations between the ages of 18 and 64 years of age. In fact, the National Women’s Law Center put the overall poverty levels of women at 15.4 percent as compared to their male counterparts who were rated at 11.9 percent (Rycroft, 2013). This group also put the poverty rate in women at 11 percent while that of men at 6.6 percent in populations of 65 years and above. If this research was something to go by, then it shows that all the governments that have been in power have not been able to address the socio-economic gender divide that has existed in this country ever since its founding.
Research has always shown that the poverty rate of the female population in the United States of America is higher than that of their female counterparts. However, the rise of a new population of single mothers is a matter of concern to all the parties involved, and would be interested in promoting the socio-economic status of our women (Blair 85). What people need to understand is that if this issue was not addressed, then we would be raising a very poor generation for the future. This is because; all the children that are being brought up by these poor single mothers would also be leading poor lives if nothing was done to address the current state (Hoffmann 88). In fact, children being brought up by single mothers have higher poverty rates when compared to the ones who are being brought up by single dads, or even in married families. As a result, most of these children fail to meet some social as well as economic amenities, and end up indulging themselves in vices like drugs, robberies and muggings among many others.
If we were to shift our attention from single mothers, we would be able to see that there are other populations who live in abject poverty in the United States of America. Most of the populations in the United States who are living in abject poverty belong to the indigenous populations and other foreign immigrants. That includes; those of Hispanic origin, black population as well as people who can trace their origin in Asia. The United States federal government has been using the welfare system as well as different social security programs in addressing poverty in this nation (Tranovsky 01). The United States federal government has been issuing food stamps to more than 47 million people in the country. It has also resolved into strategies like giving money to non working populations as well as trying to increase works supports, and work rate through welfare programs.
The welfare program was designed to help all the needy families in the United States (Travnosky 01). Welfare is one of these programs, which were meant to provide food stamps to these individuals, offer financial aid to low income citizens as well as subsidized medical care (Hoffmann 74). The welfare program was originally drafted actualized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930’s during the Great Depression. The congress later enacted the Social Security Act in 1935, which had a number of welfare programs, aimed at aiding the needy population in America. However, we need to ask ourselves why we are still having homeless persons in the streets. We also need to figure out why the cost of living which was supposed to be addressed by this program is so high. We also need to ask ourselves why we are still called the richest country in the world and “the land of opportunities” while we cannot even feed and house our own people properly. In 1995, the Case and Fair put the gross domestic product at $26,980 per person, yet we still have people living in abject poverty. This is because the American government seems to be spending on less important issues like budget payment, while ignoring its hungry population (Blair 81). All the government (both federal and state) does is call on people to work harder without providing a solution for our country’s poor economic status.
We even have had food stamps federal funding reduced: Meaning that the common American citizen will continue to dig deeper in his/her pockets for food (FRAC 01). The Food Research and Action Centre (FRAC) website says that an individual loses $11 monthly on food stamps. The same case applies to a family of two, three and four who now lose $20, $29 and $36 monthly (Siwek 01).
Confronted by all this evidence, I think it is time our government embarked on feeding its own population first, before heading out to feed other countries in the world. You cannot go to put out fire at your neighbor’s while your own house is on fire. I also believe that the current welfare system and the social security programs in the United States of America have failed to serve their purpose. This is because we have citizens who are living in abject poverty and hunger among other unaddressed social issues (Beland, Daniel & Alex 127). These programs were supposed to attack depression, and also ensure that the common American citizen would never be faced by simple social issues like poverty and hunger (Crane, Tim & Heaton 93). However, as time goes by, these two programs have become a joke in our society. This is because our country now faces more than just the recession which hit the world when these programs were being drafted. We have many aspects that keep begging for outright attention from our federal and state governments on a daily basis. These factors include; skyrocketing food prices, rising fuel prices, recession, increasing unemployment, the housing market crash and not forgetting that we now exist in an era of war (Rycroft, 203).
The most disturbing fact of the matter is; as much as our federal government is aware of these situations, it seems to turn the blame on the poor community as if it were their fault to be in that situation. The federal government emphasizes on working the means of fighting abject poverty in America, under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 (Rycroft, 53). It forgets that this Act was highly influenced by conservative republics, who did not reflect on the ideologies of every American. PRWORA was looking at reducing children poverty rate through promoting marriages, reducing dependency and enforcing work requirements (Rycroft 59). As much this was a good idea, there were sanctions which were introduced towards benefiting from these programs. Therefore, barriers such as less education, job experience and poor health meant that participants would rather not comply with PROWRA’s welfare-to-work requirements and take these Sanctions in return. This begs the question, what really is the purpose of the social security and the welfare programs if we cannot address this situation, and we keep blaming the hungry and the homeless for their situations? This means that we might even start blaming single mothers in our society just for being single.
I believe what America need is good policies that would improve our healthcare systems, education systems and assure equality in status among its citizens. This is achievable through developing strategies that would ensure elimination of poverty is a constitutional right to every American citizen. We also need policies that would elevate the living standards, and promote children independence over a long period of time other than on the welfare basis.
Béland, Daniel, and Alex Waddan. The Politics of Policy Change: Welfare, Medicare, and Social Security Reform in the United States. Washington: Georgetown University Press, 2012. Internet resource.
Blair, Sampson L. Economic Stress and the Family. Bingley, U.K: Emerald, 2012. Internet resource.
Crane, D R, and Tim B. Heaton. Handbook of Families and Poverty. Los Angeles: Sage Publications, 2008. Internet resource.
Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). Retrieved November 12, 2013, from What you need to know about Hunger in America, 2010: http://frac.org/
Hoffmann, Rasmus. Socioeconomic Differences in Old Age Mortality. Dordrecht: Springer, 2008. Print.
Rycroft, Robert S. The Economics of Inequality, Poverty, and Discrimination in the 21st Century. Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger, 2013. Print.
Siwek, N. Cuts to food stamps hit low-income residents. Retrieved November 12, 2013, from The Daily Targum:http://www.dailytargum.com/news/cuts-to-food-stamps-hit-low-income-residents/article_b4f0759e-4b52-11e3-9a14-001a4bcf6878.html
Tranovsky’s, D. A Reform to Correct Inefficiency of the Current Welfare System. 2001, May 10. Retrieved November 12, 2013, from MIT:http://web.mit.edu/dmytro/www/other/EconomicsPaper.htm