Legal Momentum Releases Groundbreaking Report On Single-parent Families

Legal Momentum Releases Groundbreaking Report On Single-parent Families

December 20, 2012
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Tim Casey

Study Compares Economic Status of Single-Parent Families in U.S. and Other High-Income Countries

December 20, 2012 (New York, NY) – Legal Momentum, the nation’s oldest nonprofit advocating for the legal rights of women in America, announced the release today of a comprehensive, cross-national report comparing single parent families in the U.S. with those in 16 other high-income countries.

“Worst Off – Single-Parent Families in the United States, A Cross-National Comparison of Single Parenthood in the U.S. and Sixteen Other High-Income Countries” is an exhaustive, critical analysis of data and information drawn from a broad range of sources including government agencies, social scientists, and academic researchers worldwide. The scope of the report, with its impressive compilation of data and statistics, is a significant addition to the literature on social policies and an incisive analysis of the current circumstances and needs of single parents in the U.S. – the overwhelming majority of whom are single mothers.

Worst Off” is the work of Timothy Casey, Senior Attorney and Director of the Women in Poverty program at Legal Momentum, and Laurie Maldonado, Research Associate of the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) Center at the Graduate Center City University of New York.

“This report makes an important contribution to our understanding of the difficult plight of single parents in the U.S.,” said Janet Gornick, Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and Director of the Luxembourg Income Study. “The authors’ cross-national analyses clarify that much of the hardship faced by U.S. single parents is due to lagging social policies in the U.S. Single parents in other high-income countries are granted more public social protections – and on many dimensions their outcomes are better.”

Linda Basch, President Emerita for the National Council for Research on Women stated: “Thanks to Legal Momentum for issuing this important report with its many lessons. By documenting the cluster of benefits - for example, health care, paid parental and sick leave, childcare - along with the political will that make it possible for single parents in other high income countries to balance work and caregiving, the report demonstrates that single parenthood and poverty do not need to go hand in hand as they so often do in the US.”

Countries compared in the report include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, The Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The report addresses the prevalence of single parents; employment and wage rates; poverty rates; and healthcare coverage. It also examines public income supports such as child allowance, advanced maintenance, unemployment insurance, and social assistance as well as government support for combining jobholding and family caregiving through policies such as early childhood education and entitlements to paid parental leave, paid sick leave, and paid annual leave.

About Legal Momentum

Legal Momentum is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1970 to advance the rights of women by using the power of the law and creating innovative public policy in three broad areas: economic justice, freedom from gender-based violence and equality under the law. For more information visit

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