Low-Income Women At Higher Risk for Health Problems
Women on welfare, especially those who are unemployed, experience physical and emotional health problems at a "significantly" higher rate than other American women, making it difficult for them to move off public assistance, according to a new study in four U.S. cities. The AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports that researchers at Manpower Demonstration Research Corp. in 1998 and 1999 surveyed 3,771 poor women in Cleveland, Los Angeles, Miami and Philadelphia who had been on welfare in May 1995, some of whom were still receiving assistance at the time of the survey and some "who had left for work or other reasons." Researchers also conducted "in-depth interviews" with 171 of the study participants. Here are some of the main findings from the report:
- Seventy-five percent of the women on welfare had at least one "health problem" -- including obesity, depression and drug use --"considered to be a potential barrier to work." Of the women surveyed, 40% had two such health problems (Meckler, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/18).
- Twenty-five percent of the women surveyed "described themselves as being in fair or poor health," compared to the nationwide rate of 8%.
- Eight percent of the children of the women surveyed were reported to be in fair or poor health, compared to 3% nationally (Rivera, Los Angeles Times, 7/18).
- Seventeen percent of women who had left welfare and held jobs said they were in poor to fair health, compared to 32% of women on welfare and not working and 35% of those neither collecting benefits nor working.
- Women who were off welfare were "much less likely to have health insurance" since virtually everyone on welfare participates in Medicaid (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/18).