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Poverty - Women
Poverty - Women in California

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California Value:


Percentage of females ages 18-44 who live below the poverty level

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Poverty - Women by State

Percentage of females ages 18-44 who live below the poverty level

Poverty - Women Trends

Percentage of females ages 18-44 who live below the poverty level

Trend: Poverty - Women in California, United States, 2023 Health Of Women And Children Report

Percentage of females ages 18-44 who live below the poverty level

United States

 U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey

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About Poverty - Women

US Value: 15.5%

Top State(s): New Hampshire: 9.1%

Bottom State(s): Louisiana: 24.8%

Definition: Percentage of females ages 18-44 who live below the poverty level

Data Source and Years: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2021

Suggested Citation: America's Health Rankings analysis of U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, United Health Foundation,, accessed 2023.

Poverty is associated with poor health outcomes. It influences environmental exposures and health-related behaviors, and is linked to increased risk of mortality and chronic disease. In 2020, 35% of families living in poverty were female-headed households with children younger than 18. 

Women with incomes below the federal poverty level may struggle to consistently afford basic needs such as stable housing, food and health insurance coverage. Additional negative implications of poverty among women include increased risk of sexual exploitation and trafficking and lower rates of physical activity.

The cost of poverty adds up over time and can become a cycle; those with limited income spend a larger portion of their wages on basic necessities and are often taken advantage of by predatory lenders, forcing them deeper into debt.

According to America’s Health Rankings data, the poverty rate is higher among:

  • American Indian/Alaska Native women than women of all other racial and ethnic groups. Black women have the second highest rate, followed by women who identify their race as other. Asian women have the lowest poverty rate, followed by white women.

Additional research has found that poverty is also higher among: 

  • Women with disabilities compared with men with disabilities and individuals without disabilities. 
  • LGBTQ women compared with cisgender straight women and men.

Addressing the gender wage gap and implementing universal basic income could reduce poverty among women. Various government programs are available to assist and support women in poverty:

  • The earned income tax credit (EITC) program provides a tax credit to low-income employed families and individuals living in poverty. The amount of the credit is based on income, marital status and number of children.
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), previously known as food stamps, provides nutrition benefits to help households in need afford food.
  • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides food and nutritional support for pregnant and postpartum women and children. 
  • Medicaid provides health care coverage to low-income adults, pregnant women and children.

Healthy People 2030 tracks different objectives related to economic stability, including reducing the proportion of people living in poverty.

Adler, Nancy E., Thomas Boyce, Margaret A. Chesney, Sheldon Cohen, Susan Folkman, Robert L. Kahn, and S. Leonard Syme. “Socioeconomic Status and Health: The Challenge of the Gradient.” American Psychologist 49, no. 1 (1994): 15–24.

Bleiweis, Robin, Diana Boesch, and Alexandra Cawthorne Gaines. “The Basic Facts About Women in Poverty.” Center for American Progress, August 3, 2020.

Chetty, Raj, Michael Stepner, Sarah Abraham, Shelby Lin, Benjamin Scuderi, Nicholas Turner, Augustin Bergeron, and David Cutler. “The Association Between Income and Life Expectancy in the United States, 2001-2014.” JAMA 315, no. 16 (April 26, 2016): 1750.

Coalition on Human Needs. “The High Cost of Being Poor in the U.S.: Anti-Poverty Programs Help Alleviate Costs, But More Must Be Done to Reduce Burdens.” Washington, D.C.: Coalition on Human Needs, September 20, 2016.

Franchino-Olsen, Hannabeth. “Vulnerabilities Relevant for Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children/Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: A Systematic Review of Risk Factors.” Trauma, Violence, & Abuse 22, no. 1 (January 2021): 99–111.

Hoebeke, Roberta. “Low-Income Women’s Perceived Barriers to Physical Activity: Focus Group Results.” Applied Nursing Research 21, no. 2 (May 2008): 60–65.

Khullar, Dhruv, and Dave A. Chokshi. “Health, Income, & Poverty: Where We Are & What Could Help.” Health Affairs Health Policy Brief. Bethesda, MD: Project HOPE, October 4, 2018.

Pampel, Fred C., Patrick M. Krueger, and Justin T. Denney. “Socioeconomic Disparities in Health Behaviors.” Annual Review of Sociology 36, no. 1 (June 1, 2010): 349–70.

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