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GROWTH IN FEMALE HEADS OF HOUSEHOLD AND THEIR RATE OF POVERTY

A major reason for the controversy surrounding AFDC is the rapid increase in the number of female heads of household and their corresponding high rate of poverty. (The frequent allocations concerning the association between the expansion in social programs and the increase in femaleheaded households will be discussed in a later section.) Prior to 1960, most families in this country consisted of two parents. This was true for both white and black families; however, after 1960 there was a substantial increase in the number of female-headed households with the greatest increase in black families. By 1970,28% of black families were headed by females. This increased to 42% in 1983 and 53% in 1986. In 1960 8% of white families were headed by females, 12% in 1983 and 18% in 1986. Less data are available on Hispanics but they have also experienced increases from 21.5% in 1982 to 23.4% in 1989 (Garcia, 1991; McRoy, 1990; Wilson & Neckerman, 1986). Although more black families are headed by females, Garfinkel and McLanahan (1986) suggest that the recent rate of growth has been similar for both black and white families-(37%) for both groups between 1960-1970 and 40% for whites and 35% for blacks between 1970-1980. Ellwood and Summers (1986) report that before reaching eighteen years of age, 45% of the white children and 85% of the black children in this country will have spent some part of their childhood in a single-parent home.