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NextGen Magazine


Study: Women Cope With Poverty Better Than Men

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Jul 10, 2019

A study from the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare has found that while poverty is no picnic for anyone, women in this situation tend to cope better than men. The study involved looking at 50 written autobiographical accounts of poverty by 25 Finnish women and 25 Finnish men aged 28-57 years submitted to a writing competition.The participants were informed that their texts would be used also for research purposes. Through this they found that poor men's future outlooks are much shorter that poor women's, and that poor men also experience more profound worthlessness than women do. 

The researchers concluded that even when men are poor and unemployed, their recognition and role is tied to work, money, and markets. Women, however, have more means to attain a sense of worth outside the economic realm. This is particularly the case when it comes to family. According to the accounts, motherhood brings with it an acknowledged position in society. Therefore, women respondents did not see unemployment as detrimental to them, as men seemed to do.

"Male respondents tended to think that being active generated value. Women's futures were generally defined by waiting for something better and raising children," says researcher Reetta Siukola from the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare. 

The researchers also found that neither men nor women liked the social security bureaucracy, with accounts describing it as leaving them voiceless and unrecognized, as opposed to expressing sympathy for people in subjectively unfair situations. This, combined with the general financial challenges, eroded experiences of dignity for both men and women, and left respondents prone to exclusion. To avoid stigma and shame, many respondents reported withdrawing from social relations. However, the study also found that men were more likely to withdraw and overall be lonely in such situations than women.