The feminization of poverty is a concept developed and popularized by Diana Pearce and other gender scholars to capture the alarming increase in the proportion of U.S. women with minor children living in poverty in the post–World War II years. In 1960, female heads of household with no husband present were about one-fourth of poor families; by the 1980s, women with minor children were a majority of America's poor, with three-fifths of poor families headed by women and nearly half of single-mother families classified as poor.

Feminist scholars have emphasized the relationships among the family, the state, and the labor market in the feminization of poverty. They argue that the gendered division of labor—reproductive and productive work, both paid and unpaid—is deeply embedded in welfare state ...

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