Economic Factors





Economic Factors

Poverty is a characteristic of a poor economy. When governments and private bodies combine efforts to alleviate poverty, this boosts the economy of a country. Eradication of poverty must however, comprise personal development of the people in order to ensure full economic independence. This must as well observe gender balance so that there is balanced development of both genders. In addition, the diversity of the country must be embraced so that the different races in a country also benefit from the country’s economic development. The greatest issue affecting economy of countries today is the feminization of poverty due to the imbalances in the economic prowess of men and women. Different economic factors in the US contribute to or minimize the gender gap in state economy.

Government Policies for Poverty Eradication

In 1935, the government policy, Aids to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), was implemented and its main target was the single mothers and the low-income families. The conditions for qualification of this aid were that, the identified families had to be poor, except the single mothers who were all considered. This policy involved aid to such families. The aid came in the form of financial assistance, provision of free medical care, food donations, and subsidies on housing. This policy however raised a number of controversies. It was thought to result in an increased dependency of the poor in society. This would also discourage the poor from looking for employment and means of self-dependence. Finally, this would discourage people from getting marriage and thus increasing the number of single mothers. This was proved ineffective in ensuring a poverty-free society. Nonetheless, this policy was beneficial to women during its short operational period.

In 1996, another policy of poverty eradication was implemented as a replacement of the AFDC. This was the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). This policy was funded by different states, unlike the AFDC, which was wholly funded by the federal government. In 2008, this policy was amended and required all single mothers to work a minimum of thirty hours in a week. The main argument for this proposition was that, most mothers in dual –income families went to work, therefore, the single mothers too were expected to work. In addition, unlike the AFDC, this policy had a time limit of five years. Since this program was temporal, it aimed at equipping the low-income families with enough resources to help them solve their financial problems and establish themselves financially in the future. Unlike ADDC, this program had strict requirements for qualification. For instance, US citizenship for whole family was mandatory, the children were to be aged below 18years, in addition to the parents earning a minimal monthly salary, and being in possession of a social security number. The aid was in form of financial support for the families, employment programs, and childcare, among others. This policy supported women but discriminated against non-Americans. Additionally, the Child Care and Development Block Grant by the government to states involves finances for states to expand day care services for poor families, and those on welfare. This boosts the quality and supply of day care. These policies were instrumental in bridging the economic gap between men and women since the government relieves women of some of their childcare responsibilities.

Government Taxation Programs

The Earned Income Tax Credit was set up in 1975 to help boost national economy. It mainly applied to households and based on their earnings. This was an incentive for people to work harder, as this tax credit on family income was refundable. This way, it served to raise family income, as well as the family’s purchasing power. On the low-income earners, credit increased with earnings, while on high-income earners, reduced with earnings.

In Marriage Penalties and Bonuses, married couples are entitled to different income tax schedules. They can gain high income with lower taxes. Marriage penalty is higher for individuals than for married couples. Since women are the pillar of their families, these tax subsidies help them save their money for other uses. Additionally, on relationship between race and taxes, different races may belong to different economic classes in a country. This affects distribution of government support, tax relief, and tax credits. The lower economic class might get tax deductions, unlike the upper class. This is in an effort to level the economic gaps between the different classes (Humez & Dines 54).

Role of Women in Economy

Women play the major role in their families. These also have jobs, and so juggle between nurturing their families, and performing well in their jobs. However, women’s contribution to the labour market is not valued, as men’s. This has led to disparities in men and women’s salaries, as men are paid much higher than women are. Therefore, women have to work extra hard in order to reach the salary levels of their male counterparts. In addition, the women who are married, with children, receive a lesser salary, compared to the single women.

In most countries, the housework performed by women is not valued in monetary terms, so it is unpaid. This is why unemployed mothers persist in poverty. This scenario has forced most women to take up double jobs, which is the household job, and the labour market jobs in order to strike a life balance. To some extent, women in society are naturally disadvantaged as their biological functions and processes deter them from working continuously. During pregnancy, women go on maternity leaves, and this affects their salaries and positions. Today, in this harsh economic climate, more women have second thoughts about motherhood, as this would lower their independence level.

Unlike men, it is harder for women today to balance between household duties and their jobs. Men are better placed in the economic market because of their few roles in household duties. Although men agree to share domestic work with their partners, this is not the case for many families. Therefore, women are still burdened with double work. This instance has led to the assumption that married women are less productive at work because of the extra burdens they bear at home. This has resulted in some cases of discrimination in employment on the women’s side, basing on marital status. Employers do not like to employ married women, considering them less productive at work than men and the single women. This has resulted in lower economic status of women, and the general feminization of poverty in the world.

Government Policies for Families

            In order to address the feminization of poverty in a country, governments should undertake the initiative of coming up with policies, which favour families, since this is where the married women are. Some of the US family policies do not allow for this. For instance, the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which was adopted by the government in 1993, does not fully address the economic imbalance between women and men, which result from the overburdening of women with both domestic work and their jobs in the labour market. Under this act, the twelve weeks’ family leave is not paid. The government does not also cater for childcare arrangements. This is unlike countries such as Sweden, France, and Denmark, which offer free childcare to families. However, health insurance and other company benefits remain in this program. Children are beneficial to the country and so should be protected and provided for by their respective governments. When governments support children economically, they grow up to be responsible adults, who will participate in nation building, therefore boosting the economy of their country. Therefore, governments need to provide childcare for children in the nation. This will also relieve women of healthcare expenses they incur in the process, thus making them poorer.

In order to ensure that all families receive childcare, the government should be the main provider of both health insurance and childcare to families. When this responsibility is left to the firms and companies only, there will be adverse selection as not all employers will provide these services, and if provided, they will vary. This results in imbalances in benefits for women.

Employer Policies for Workers

            Some employer policies in the US favour women in the job market. For instance, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects the pregnant women at work. This bars other employees from treating pregnant employees differently. This way, the rights of these women are protected. Additionally, the employers are prohibited from discriminating against women based on their gender and their pregnancy situations.

Today, most employers offer alternative work schedules. These include different types of employment modes such as part-time employment, flexitime, home-based employment, job sharing, and non-standard work schedules. All these mostly work in favour of women who can choose to balance between home and work, allocating each a convenient time. As observed, the gender gap will be bridged if more policies ensured gender balance in the economy of a country.


Works Cited

Humez, Jean & Dines, Gail. “Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Critical Reader.” 2010. New

York: Sage Publications.

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