America Provides Far Less Support To Single Parents Than Other Wealthy Countries

Out of 17 developed countries, single parents in the US are have the fewest resources and the greatest economic hardship, a new report from Legal Momentum shows.

In other countries, parents raising a child alone are offered help from the state and have relative economic stability. But the assessment in the US is different. Not only do American single parents have the largest number of children, they also have the fewest resources to help them raise the kids:

We find that U.S. single-parent families are the worst off. They have the highest poverty rate. They have the highest rate of no health care coverage. They face the stingiest income support system. They lack the paid-time-off-from-work entitlements that in comparison countries make it easier for single parents to balance caregiving and jobholding. They must wait longer than single parents in comparison countries for early childhood education to begin. They have a low rate of child support receipt.

Single parents in the United States also fare worse than their international counterparts when it comes to employment. A huge percentage of single American parents — 25 percent — hold low-wage jobs, higher than any other developed country in the study:

The US was the only country in the study to offer absolutely no paid maternity leave, and just 12 weeks of unpaid leave, to expecting mothers. Some US parents enjoy paid parental leave provided by an employer, but the lowest income Americans (precisely those who match the profile of the average single parent) are those most likely to have no paid leave. By comparison, the countries with the highest amount of leave — both France and Germany — offer 162 weeks total, some paid and some unpaid.


There are a few different solutions that could help with solving the economic difficulties faced by single parents. First, alleviating their tax bill through programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit would help parents see more of the money they make come back into their families. Second, about half of pregnancies in the United States are unintended, and the majority of those pregnancies are to single or unmarried women. There is no reason to suggest that single parents are unfit to raise children, but strengthening access to highly effective methods of birth control would help parents who do not want children to avoid the responsibilities of being a single parent.