Shallow Income Pools
From the perspective of the political economy of capitalism, poverty is seen largely as a result of the relationship between individuals (who are actual or potential workers) and the labor market. However, there is another perspective to be considered, that of the moral economy of family life ( Cheal, 1989). From the latter point of view, the economic well-being of individuals is seen to be shaped by whether or not people occupy a socially defined role within a system of normative obligations to provide mutual support. From a perspective of moral economy, adults who experience poverty are poor either because they do not live with a partner whose income they can share or because their partner is unable, or unwilling, 1 to provide much financial support.
Many of the shallowest income pools are found in the households of unmarried individuals, whose opportunities for sharing are often limited. Consequently, they are overrepresented among the poor. In contrast, married couples who share their incomes are better off than unmarried individuals on average. However, there is considerable diversity of socioeconomic conditions among the married, and some couples are not as well off as others. It is therefore important that the married poor be recognized, and their particular circumstances need to be described.
The poorest couples are often those in which the economic disadvantage of lack of employment by one partner cannot be compensated by income sharing, because the other partner also suffers from a shortage of