A July 14 New York Times article by Jason DeParle entitled “Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do’” recounts the story of two mothers, one of whom is married and one not, and the disparate incomes and opportunities for their respective children. The single mother’s difficulties in raising children on around $25,000 were presented in detail.
While demonstrating that single mothers often have stark choices and may not be able to give their kids the same vacations, or extracurricular activities as two-parent households, the article does not address important factors relating to single mothers in American society. For example, U.S. single mother poverty rates are notably higher than the average for single mothers in other high-income countries. In addition, low-wage work is much more common in the U.S. than in other high-income countries, and low-wage work is much more common for single mothers in the U.S. than for others who are employed.
The article should have discussed the policies found in other wealthy countries but not in the U.S. that serve to ameliorate the economic insecurity so common for single mother families in the U.S. – policies such as universal free or subsidized child care, universal paid parental leave, an adequate welfare system, children’s allowances, and assured child support.
Legal Momentum has written extensively about the serious economic problems many single mothers face and the policies that would improve family economic security. A compilation of all of our recent single mother reports is now available. Here are some examples:
A recent study found that during a 30 year period (1979-2009), 34% of employed single mothers were both working at a low-wage and in a family with a low income.
At any one time, about two-thirds of single mothers work outside the home. However, only two-fifths of single mothers are employed full-time the entire year, and a quarter are jobless the entire year.