Women and Poverty
In 2004, nearly 37 million people in the United
States lived with incomes below the Federal poverty level.1
The poverty rate for all women 18 years and older in 2004 was 12.7
percent (representing 14.3 million women), compared to a rate of
9.3 percent for men. Women in families, those who live with people
to whom they are directly related, experience higher rates of poverty
than men in families (9.8 versus 6.7 percent). Men in households
with no spouse present are considerably less likely to have incomes
below the poverty level than women in households with no spouse
present (11.8 versus 24.8 percent).
Education is related to poverty as well. The poverty
rate among women with no high school diploma is 28.3 percent; this
is far higher than the rate among women with a high school diploma
(12.3 percent). Women with at least a 4-year college degree experience
the lowest poverty rate (4.5 percent).
1 The Census Bureau uses a set of money income
thresholds that vary by family size and composition to determine
who is poor. If a family’s total income is less than that family’s
threshold, then that family and every individual in it is considered
to be poor. Examples of 2004 poverty levels were $9,645 for an individual,
$12,334 for a family of two, $15,067 for a family of three, and
$19,307 for a family of four.