Race, Family Status, Cumulative Risk, and Poverty: Toward a Racial Stratification Approach

Deadric Williams , University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Regina Baker, University of Pennsylvania

Prior studies on race, family status, and poverty are guided by the resource model of marriage and social selection. These approaches suggest that family status differences in poverty is largely due to adverse social and economic circumstances that select individuals to non-marital relationships. Yet, these approaches do not fully explain racial variations in poverty. We take a racial stratification approach. Using panel data, the findings revealed a complex association: White married mothers have less than a 20% chance of experiencing poverty, regardless of the number of risk factors. For Black and Hispanic married mothers with no risks have a 20% chance of poverty, and the probability of poverty increases with the number of risks. Our results point to the need to move away from focusing on the institution of marriage as an inequality-reducing mechanism toward understanding the complex role of the social construction of race.

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 Presented in Session 199. Families and Inequality