Aspects of Poverty in a Period of Recession in the Mediterranean Countries: A Gender Perspective

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 7:00 PM
Room: 413
Oral Presentation
Dionysis BALOURDOS , National Centre for Social Research, Athens, Greece
This paper aims to identify the impact of the economic crisis on woman’s poverty in the Mediterranean countries, the most affected by the recession. The research questions are: Is the crisis likely to have affected women more than men? Do salary cuts and decreasing household incomes force women to turn into precarious and informal workforce? Do unequal sharing of unpaid care and housework burdens, gender roles and gender stereotypes compound to produce unequal life chances for women? Can gender perspectives in policy design be a response to the financial crisis?

Based on recent research, this paper’s objective is to depict the current position of women in poverty in a comparative perspective. The analysis focuses on the “traditional forms of poverty” from one generation to another and is mainly linked to economic factors and to “the new urban forms of poverty” consisting of a domino effect (loss of job, low income, in work poverty, family breakdown, “delayed” fertility, separations and divorces).

Provided evidence demonstrates that due to the recession even more women have fallen into poverty, with the loss of jobs, wage decreases and with the increase of uninsured people pushing many women into an uncertain and potentially devastating financial situation. The paper also examines another field often overlooked when it comes to discussing the leading causes of poverty among women: The fall from middle class standards due to divorce. Data confirm that typically divorced women especially older women or single mothers are the most vulnerable, while the poverty risks are lowest among married women and dual-earner families. It seems that financial hardship is a major cause of family breakdown. Low-income parents are more likely to break up and to remain poor after the split than others. Consequently, poor economic conditions have strong impacts on fertility behavior.