Western Governors University
Gender Wage Gap: Economic Effects
Admittedly, the government is struggling to meet the needs of many Americans. Housing, medical assistance and nourishment, are among the highest sources of economic strain for most people. Because wages for women average 23% less than men, this leaves them in a difficult position trying to support their families and having to utilize many government assistance programs (Ren, 2010). These are not just single mothers these are two parent families, single mother head of households, and single women. They struggle to make ends meet, and when they don’t succeed, they have to turn to the government for help. In housing alone, Wider Opportunities for Women reports that three quarters of the housing assistance provided by the government is used by women as the head of household (p. 1). The Medicaid program only looks at those at or below poverty, yet 28% of families at that level are with a female head of household and relying on the government to pay their health and medical bills (Project America, 2009). The food stamp program provides assistance to almost 14% of the current U.S. population. There is no absolute way to confirm how many families feel forced to utilize these programs because of wage discrimination. What is known is that there are 7.8 million families relying on the woman’s earnings alone; therefore, one can only estimate the percentage of cause (National Women's Law Center, 2011). Yet that is only the start! As Joe Biden said, “Wage discrimination by gender is not simply a women’s issue, it is also an economic security problem for families” (Ren, 2010). Hence, all of these programs require immense budgets and their needs are growing daily, but the government cannot afford this to continue. Reduction is necessary, and with gender wage gap elimination, many Americans would no longer need assistance. Food stamps, housing assistance, and Medicare are just a few of the programs that are feeling the pinch. Reinforcing eradication of wage discrimination would reduce the risk of lawsuits, which would mean less court costs for businesses and individuals, while increasing financial security for many employees. Research suggests the most important reasons supporting the elimination of wage discrimination toward women are; it would help the government out of its fiscal crisis, give a boost to the economy and bring about decreased resentment among coworkers resulting in positive change with in corporate America. Many Americans are oblivious to the problem and find it hard to believe after the women’s rights movement in the 1960’s that any gender discrimination still exists. Moreover, the idea that this issue could force women and families into poverty is unfathomable. Yet the utilization of many government services has risen to heights never experienced in the history of the United States. Many families with female head of household receive the average monthly stipend of $287.82 in food stamps (Murray, 2010). The current U.S. population is well over 300 million meaning the number of people receiving food stamps is over 40 million. With the average family consisting of 2.6 people, that would put just over 15 million families on food stamps equaling a cost of 4.3 billion dollars per month, which climbs to a yearly total of over 51.8 billion (United States Census Bureau, 2010). With these figures alone, the deficit total is not a surprise. Moreover, add in the medical expenses and housing and there develops a better understanding how some families got to this point. Currently in the U. S. there are 50 million uninsured citizens, equaling over 15% of the population. The current health care reform plans estimate the cost to cover these individuals will be upwards of 150 billion dollars per year (Project America, 2009). In addition, the food and nutrition...