Report Examines Family Structure and Poverty
Special Report - December 2, 2011
The economic recession has increased poverty in the United States for many families, especially those headed by single mothers who experience higher poverty rates than other family forms in any economic climate, according to a new report from Child Trends. The Child Trends Research Brief entitled, “Two Generations: Status and Trends Among Parents and Children in the United States, 2000-2010,” is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau. It shows that 15.1 percent of the U.S. population was living in poverty in 2010, with more than one in five children (or 22 percent) living in poverty. The report notes that poverty has increased during the “Great Recession,” especially among women, who are significantly more likely than men to live in poverty.
Most significantly, the Child Trends report highlights the important link between family structure and poverty. According to the report, single parent families are about four times as likely to live in poverty as married couple families. For example, 37.2 percent of single parent families were living in poverty in 2010, compared to only 8.8 percent of married couple families. Between 2009 and 2010, the proportion of single parent families in poverty increased from 35.2 percent to 37.2 percent, while the proportion of married couple families living in poverty increased from 8.3 percent in 2009 to 8.8 percent in 2010. “Families headed by single parents are more likely to be poor than families headed by married couples,” the report notes, “even when at least one family member is working full time and year-round.”
The report also shows the connection between child poverty and family structure. Children growing up in single mother households experience higher rates of poverty than children in married couple families. In 2010, for example, 46.9 percent of children in single mother households were in poverty, compared to 11.6 percent of children in married couple families. Disturbingly, over the past decade, the proportion of single mother families has increased significantly, as the proportion of married-couple families has declined. For example, the percentage of single mother families with children has increased from 23.1 percent in 2000 to 26.2 percent in 2010. At the same time, the percentage of married couple families with children has decreased from 71.0 percent in 2000 to 66.6 percent in 2010.
“[F}amily structure is strongly related to poverty status and low-income status, with single-parent familiesand those families headed by single mothers in particularhaving higher levels of poverty than married-couple families,” the report states. “This difference has important implications, given that the proportion of families headed by single mothers has followed an upward trend across the past decade.”
Belonging and Rejection Report - November 21, 2011
“Marriage and Economic Well-Being,” - FNC - Summer 2011
America's Greatest Child Poverty Weapon
- October 4, 2010
“The Price of Family Fragmentation,” - FNC - Jul/Aug 2008
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