why do single mothers live in poverty

Single mothers much more likely to live in poverty than single fathers, study finds
August 31, 2015 Single mothers earn significantly less than single fathers, and they're penalized for each additional child they have even though the income of single fathers remains the same or increases with each added child in their family. Men also make more for every additional year they invest in education, further widening the gender gap, reports a University of Illinois study. "Single earn about two-thirds of what single earn. Even when we control for such variables as occupation, numbers of hours worked, education, and social capital, the income gap does not decrease by much. Single mothers are far more likely to live in poverty than single fathers, and they do not catch up over time," said Karen Kramer, a U of I assistant professor of family studies. In 2012, 28 percent of all U. S. children lived with one parent. Of that number, 4. 24 million single mothers lived below the poverty line compared to 404,000 single fathers, she noted. The single most important factor that allows single-parent families to get out of poverty is working full-time, she said. "A 2011 study shows that in single-parent families below the at the end, only 15. 1 percent were employed full-time year-round. " Previous studies show that 39 percent of working single mothers report receiving unearned income, assumed to be child support. That means fathers are contributing only 28 percent of child-rearing costs in single-mother households, she said. The pathway into single-parent households differs by gender, she said. "Single fathers are more likely to become single parents as the result of a divorce; single mothers are more likely never to have been married," she explained. "Divorced single parents tend to be better off financially and are more educated than their never-married counterparts. The most common living arrangement for children after a divorce is for mothers to have custody. Single fathers with custody are more likely to have a cohabiting partner than single mothers, and that partner is probably at least sharing household tasks.


Single mothers are more likely to be doing everything on their own," she said. Often single mothers have both the stress of raising children alone and crippling financial stress, she added. Society still stigmatizes single mothers, she noted. "People think: How did you get in this position? It's irresponsible to be a with so many kids. Now you don't have time to work. " She pointed out that the role of women as caretakers saturates every aspect of our culture. "Women perform most caregiving work for children, elders, and dependent persons, both within their own families and as paid employees," she said. "We need to encourage women to invest in education. And, as policymakers, we need to make sure that women and men get the same return on that investment," she said. Kramer recommended that more emphasis and pressure should be placed on fathers and their ability to pay child support and spousal maintenance; raising the minimum wage to a living wage; and providing similar benefits and rewards for part-time work as the ones full-time workers get. Affordable housing in a safe neighborhood, access to public transportation, food support, child care and health care for single mothers should also be supported, she added. Kramer noted that single mothers who don't participate in Social Security because they are not working are setting themselves up for lifelong poverty. "Social Security is designed to protect those who have lengthy work histories or women who get married. Single motherhood presents a continuing crisis that requires efforts to end women's poverty by enforcing anti-discrimination laws and offering opportunities and training for better-paying positions," Kramer said. More information: "Comparison of Poverty and Income Disparity of Single Mothers and Fathers Across Three Decades, 1990-2010" appears in a recent issue of Gender Issues. Provided by: It's clear in America that family structure and poverty are intertwined: Nearly a third of households headed by single women. And just six percent of families led by married couples are in the official ranks of the poor.


Poverty, meanwhile, touches an astounding who live without a father. Recent by Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendron, Patrick Kline, Emmanuel Saez and Nicholas Turner also found that intergenerational income mobility was lower in metropolitan areas with a larger share of single mothers, a bold-faced finding that touched off a of over what. The researchers' findings on this front are summarized in this chart posted by Atif Mian and Amir Sufi on Each dot on that chart represents a single metro area, with local upward mobility clearly declining as the share of single mothers rises. "The statistical power of this one variable is stunning," Mian and Sufi write, in considering the link between family structure and income mobility (or inequality, as they frame it). Now, we are wading into some hugely controversial issues here. So it is crucial to be scientific about what this figure means. This is a correlation ; it is not necessarily evidence of causation. It doesnвt mean that if we somehow paired up single mothers with a partner, then suddenly inequality would go down. Further, the channel through which inequality and family structure are related is complex. For example, the authors show that cities that have a large fraction of mothers that are single have less upward mobility even for families where both parents are in the home. So again, the channel is unlikely to be a direct effect of single mothers on inequality. It's tempting to look at the tidy pattern above and conclude that the breakdown of marriage causes poverty, perpetuating inequality. As Mian and Sufi point out, your take on the causal direction here likely depends on your ideology. Conservatives have used this data to argue for the importance of marriage in lifting women and children out of poverty, as if the shortage of stable husbands were the source of the problem rather than one of its side effects. Liberals argue, on the other hand, as sociologist, that economic forces much larger than families have decimated urban communities and robbed many men of one of the prerequisites to a stable marriage: a job.


By this thinking, the circumstances of poverty itself strain families. To suggest the opposite -- that frayed social values drive poverty -- is to point toward, this argument says:В Incentivize marriage. Teach family values. Just convince poor people to get married. Mian and Sufi argue for more economic analysis of the "causal chain" here. But in the meantime, let's look atВ the explanation that, at the very least, the same underlying conditions may be creating single mothers and low social mobility in a city like Atlanta. That chart couldВ easily be embraced by those convinced that that we should blame the prevalence of single mothers -- or the absence of fathers -- for the fact that poor children have little chance to move up in the world in some communities. But that argument ignores what marriage might actually look like to a woman living in a neighborhood with high rates of poverty, unemployment and incarceration. It's true that marriage can bring stability and emotional benefits to the children of middle- and upper-class families. But that's not because the institution of marriage itself is universally beneficial. It's because certain kinds of marriages are beneficial, such as those between adults who don't have to worry about getting evicted, who can afford to pay their medical bills, who don't contend with the surrounding stresses of violence or joblessless or having to get to work without a car. "The problem," Ohio State sociologist Kristi Williams, "is that thereвs no evidence that the kind of marriages that poor, single parents enter into will have these same benefits. " Consider it that way, and a woman may not get married for reasons that have nothing to do with how much she values В the institution. A man may not get married for reasons that have nothing to do with whether he believes in a "culture of marriage. " In isolating culture and values as the source of the problem, we can miss the other fundamental ways in which poor households without married parents differ from better-off households with married parents.

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