This passage was adapted from an article written in 1990.
Research data indicate that there is a great deal of poverty in the United States among single-parent families headed by women. This problem could result from the fact that women's wages are only 60 percent of men's. Some economists believe that rigorous enforcement of existing equal pay laws would substantially decrease this wage inequity. But equal pay laws are ineffectual when women and men are concentrated in different occupations because such laws require only that women and men doing the same jobs be paid the same. Since gender concentration exists (for example, 80 percent of clerical workers are women), other economists argue that a comparable worth standard, which would mandate that women and men in any jobs that require comparable training and responsibility be paid the same, should be applied instead. But some policy analysts assert that, although comparable worth would virtually equalize male and female wages, many single-parent families headed by women would remain in poverty because many men earn wages that are below the poverty line. These policy analysts believe that the problem is not caused primarily by wage inequity but rather by low wages coupled with single parenthood, regardless of sex. As a solution, they challenge the government's assumption that a family's income should depend primarily on wages and urge the government to provide generous wage supplements (child and housing allowances) to single parents whose wages are low.
The passage suggests that the United States government's policy towards providing wage supplements to parents whose wages are low is
considered ill advised by most economists who have studied the issue
based on assumptions about the appropriate sources of family income
under revision in response to criticism from some policy analysts
capable of eliminating wage inequality but not of raising incomes for both women and men
applicable to single-parent families headed by women but not to single-parent families headed by men