NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Earnings an Issue for Single Parents

September 12, 2013

You probably remember the headlines about "Breadwinner Moms" a few months ago. The Pew Center had published a report finding women are the best-paid workers in a record 40 percent of households with children under 18. That's practically quadruple the 1960 number, say Aparna Mathur, Hao Fu and Peter Hansen of the American Enterprise Institute.

The data collected suggest that the presence or absence of children might be the single biggest factor explaining income differences between single and married mothers.

  • Sixty percent of "breadwinner-mom" families are really just single-mom families.
  • In fact, single moms account for precisely one-quarter of U.S. households; single dads make up another 6 percent.
  • According to Pew, married mothers earned a median family income of $80,000 in 2011, almost four times more than families led by a single mom.
  • More than 80 percent of moms with spouses are employed, but only 60 percent of single mothers are in full-time jobs.
  • Similarly, single dads are less likely to be in full-time jobs (69 percent) than married dads (88 percent).

For single and married women without children, the average difference in income in 2012 was $857 -- nearly inconsequential compared to the almost $19,000 difference between single and married mothers.

Source: Aparna Mathur, Hao Fu and Peter Hansen, "The Mysterious and Alarming Rise of Single Parenthood in America," The Atlantic, September 3, 2013.


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