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Christopher, Karen
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
LIS Working Paper Series 287
I begin with a review of the literature that considers the gendered assumptions upon which many welfare states base their social policies. Next I present my research questions, discuss data and methods, and present analyses of how welfare states affect the poverty rates of mothers, single mothers, and other citizens in nine Western nations (Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, UK, and US). The analyses show the extent to which social assistance programs reduce mothers' and single mothers' poverty rates-in an absolute sense, and also how welfare states reduce their poverty rates relative to the poverty rates of other groups (such as female non-mothers or non-single mothers). I find that the welfare states most representative of the 'male breadwinner' model (Germany and the Netherlands) are problematic not only with their gendered assumptions about women's carework; compared to other countries, they also do less to reduce mothers' poverty rates relative to those of female non-mothers and men. In other words, in Germany and the Netherlands, many social policies assume that mothers are primary caregivers, but their social assistance programs fail to lower mothers' poverty rates relative to those of other citizens. I conclude with the implications of these findings for mothers' economic dependence on male partners. First, I present a brief discussion of the theoretical literature on the gendered nature of welfare states.
Document Type: 
Working Paper
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