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Poverty - Causes Of Poverty

Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 6Poverty - Causes Of Poverty, Consequences Of Poverty, Programs For Children Living In Poverty

Causes of Poverty

What are the causes of childhood poverty or low family income? The most obvious answer is that the parents make low wages for their work. Full-time work at or near the minimum wage is insufficient to move even a small family above the poverty level. What characteristics are associated with low income for families? Parents in poor families tend to be younger and less educated than parents in nonpoor families; they are also more likely to be single or divorced. The rise in childhood poverty since the 1970s is associated with an increase in single-parent families. It would be a mistake, however, to view single parenthood as a major cause of child poverty independent of economic factors. Custodial parents experience significant declines in family income following divorce or separation. Also, single parents often have difficulty balancing the demands of parenting (e.g., picking up a sick child from child care) and the demands of job advancement or promotion. Finally, family stress and conflict caused by poverty can be responsible for divorce or separation; Sherman reports that poor parents separate twice as frequently as do nonpoor parents.

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