Sociology 498: Homelessness
While the heavy male concentration among the homeless may not be surprising
for anybody who has walked city streets lately,
or even for people who have worked at homeless shelters,
the comparisons with the Chicago poor remind us that we cannot explain the
male concentration by poverty theories.
The poor in Chicago (as elsewhere) are disproportionately female.
If poverty alone were the cause of homelessness, we would expect women to
have higher rates of homelessness.
Rossi comes to a similar conclusion (p. 119): "Homelessness may afflict males more often than females, but that is not true of extreme poverty." Rossi draws this conclusion based on his comparisons with surveys of AFDC and General Assistance recipients. The above comparison to the 1990 Census data is based on a more representative sample of the Chicago poor, but it is reassuring that the conclusions are the same.
Rossi recognizes the need for additional theories to explain this relationship between gender and homelessness: "Men and women are regarded differently by society in general, and considerably more sympathy and support is extended to women, especially when they are rearing children. Not only is more help offered to women by society, but families are more protective of their female members. Intrakin support is more easily extended to females than to males" (pages 119-120). This interpretation lend support to our government welfare and family breakdown explanations of homelessness.
Other charts on gender and homelessness:
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|Last updated October 23, 2002||
comments to: Reeve Vanneman. email@example.com