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How Equal Pay for Working Women would Reduce Poverty and Grow the American Economy

According to a regression analysis of federal data by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), the poverty rate for working women would be cut in half if women were paid the same as comparable men. The analysis—prepared by IWPR for use in The Shriver Report’s A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink, produced in partnership with the Center for American Progress—also estimates that the U.S. economy would have produced income of $447.6 billion more if women received equal pay, which represents 2.9 percent of 2012 gross domestic product (GDP).
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Jan 13, 2014

Washington, DC—According to a regression analysis of federal data by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), the poverty rate for working women would be cut in half if women were paid the same as comparable men. The analysis—prepared by IWPR for use in The Shriver Report’s A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink, produced in partnership with the Center for American Progress—also estimates that the U.S. economy would have produced income of $447.6 billion more if women received equal pay, which represents 2.9 percent of 2012 gross domestic product (GDP).

Persistent earnings inequality for working women translates into lower pay, less family income, and more poverty in families with a working woman. About 71 percent of all mothers in the United States work for pay. One-third (32 percent) are single mothers and often the sole support of their families.

“The Shriver Report emphasizes that women play a vital role in the American economy and in the financial security of families around the country,” said IWPR President Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D. “Paying women fairly for their work would go a long way in reducing poverty and giving the economy the jump start it needs.”

Additional findings from IWPR’s analysis include:

  • Nearly 60 percent (59.3 percent) of women would earn more if working women were paid the same as men of the same age with similar education and hours of work.
  • The poverty rate for women would be cut in half, falling to 3.9 percent from 8.1 percent among working women. The very high poverty rate for working single mothers would fall by nearly half, from 28.7 percent to 15.0 percent.
  • The total increase in women’s earnings with pay equity represents more than 14 times what the Federal and state governments spent in fiscal year 2012 on Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).

Excerpts from The Shriver Report, A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink, and additional information are available at ShriverReport.org and AmericanProgress.org.

The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies.

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