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Oct 16, 2014 05:12 AM EDT

Poor Women Blame Children and Troubled Love Life for Poverty, Study

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Having children at a young age and a dysfunctional love life are some of the reasons given by low-income women for their poverty, according to a study led by the Arizona State University.

The way a women answers the question of "why me?" for their state of poverty is a key indicator of their health status.

"By understanding how women answer the question of who or what is to blame for their current financial situation, we can begin to develop more effective interventions and policies," said Kristin Mickelson of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Arizona State University.

For the study, the researchers followed analyzed answers of 66 low-income mothers who were part of "Mother's Outcome Matters" study in Northeast Ohio.

The researchers found that women who attributed their poverty to having children at an early age tend to experience higher levels of depression, maybe because they feel a sense of guilt, blame or helplessness. On the other hand, those who credited their poverty to issues in their romantic relationships faced more anxiety.

Anxiety and depression issues were also observed among women who blamed the government or discriminatory practises like unequal pay. Only a few of them blamed fate for their situation.

These behavioural issues, in fact, reveal their sense of fear, and lack of control over problems like domestic violence and poor spending habits of their partners.

The study also found that most women perceived their current social class to be significantly lower than it was when they were children. However, they believe that they can come out of poverty once the reasons for their current state disappear. For example, when their children leave home or when they are able to escape a bad relationship.

"We are better able to understand whether such women will tend to suffer depression or anxiety, and how they think about their chances of being able to rise above their current social class and situations," said Emily Hazlett of Kent State University and the Northeast Ohio Medical University.

The finding is published in Springer's journal Sex Roles.

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