Female-Headed Families and Poverty in Rural America*


  • *

    Support for this project was provided by Experiment Station Projects 3692, 3644, and 3865 of the College of Agricultural Sciences, and by Population Center Grant funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to the Population Research Institute (R24 HD 41025–01), The Pennsylvania State University. The authors would like to acknowledge the programming assistance of Don Gensimore. Direct correspondence to: Anastasia R. Snyder, The Pennsylvania State University, 111a Armsby Building, University Park, PA 16802, tel: 814–865–6223, fax: 814–865–3746, snyder@pop.psu.edu


Abstract  Employing data from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 March supplements of the Current Population Surveys, this study examines changing household and family structure in metro and nonmetro areas and corresponding changes in poverty, emphasizing female-headed families with children under age 18. We also pay particular attention to the structure and economic conditions of subfamilies with children during this period. Household and family structure in suburban metro and nonmetro areas were quite similar by 2000. In contrast, families and households in nonmetro and metro central city areas were similar in their high prevalence of poverty. Finally, the risk of female-headed families and subfamilies with children living in poverty is highest for nonmetro residents, and their individual characteristics suppress rather than account for this disadvantage. This pattern persisted across the decades studied, despite economic growth during the 1990s.