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The Recession in Pink and Blue (October 24, 2011)

By Nancy Folbre
The New York Times

"Even mothers receiving support from fathers tend to take more responsibility for meeting family needs, intensifying the experience of economic insecurity.

A recent report issued by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research assessed some of the most stressful consequences of a high unemployment rate, based on a nationwide telephone survey conducted last fall in conjunction with the Rockefeller Survey of Economic Security.

The report emphasizes the effects of unemployment on families rather than individuals. More than one-third of respondents reported that they or someone else in their household experienced unemployment during the previous two years. The percentage reached almost one-half for black and Hispanic respondents, and more than half for single mothers.

Unemployment made daily life more difficult for almost everyone touched by it. Still, the gender differences are striking, even among married couples.

Married mothers reported that they were more likely to cut back on household spending than married fathers (80 percent, compared with 66 percent). There was also a noticeable, though not statistically significant, difference between the percentages of married mothers and fathers who reported problems paying their rent or mortgage (31 percent, compared with 26 percent).

Health care anxieties were intense: married mothers were more likely than married fathers to report that they had trouble getting or paying for medical care for themselves or family (34 percent, compared with 17 percent) and that they were worried about the possibility that their employer would cut back health care coverage or increase its costs (43 percent, compared with 34 percent)."

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