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61 Single Parent Statistics: 2020/2021 Overview, Demographics & Facts

by Arthur Zuckerman

Until recently, single parenthood was viewed by society at large as a hallmark of failure. It was claimed to be the source of child poverty, school failure, and delinquency amongst other problems. The latest single parent statistics, however, have offered insights into this highly polarized debate, breaking the stereotypes that have, for long, laced the life of solo parents and their children with stigmatization.

In this article, we have dug deep to reveal key data and facts that tell a different story of single parenthood. By taking a look at these statistics, you’ll gain a better understanding of single parenthood and rise above the perceived “problems” of being a solo parent.

single parent statistics

Key Single Parent Demographics Statistics

First, how many single parents are out there? The following data show that single parenthood is now more common than ever before. And, in this section, we’ll break down single parent statistics in terms of gender, ethnic groups, households, and country to help you crunch the numbers better. In addition, we’ll reveal statistics of children raised by single parents.

Number of single-parent households

Single parents are everywhere in today’s society. They are church members, co-workers, leaders, daughters, mothers, fathers, and grandparents. But, do we really have the count of households where they live? The following single parent statistics uncover general data about single parenthood and households with solo parents.

  • 86% of single-parent families in the US are led by mothers.
  • Also, 57% of millennial mothers are single moms.
  • In addition, in 2017, 25% of US households were headed by a single parent.
  • In 2019, in the UK, 14.9% of families or 2.9 million families, were single-parent families.
  • Better still, in the UK, there were 2.454 million single mothers compared to 0.4 million single fathers.
  • 32% of families with children in the UK have been a single parent at some point.
  • Moreover, 24% of households in the UK with children reported being single-parent households.
  • Further, in 2017, 55% of single parents in the UK had one child, 33% had two children, and 13% had three children.

Number of children living in a single-parent household

Single parenthood is incomplete without children. In this section, we’ll unearth key statistics that cover one of the most fragile partakers of single parenthood. As shown below, the number of children in single-parent households is increasing, which is consistent with the growing number of solo parents.

  • As of 2019, there were 15.76 million children living with their single mothers in the US.
  • Besides, in the same year, 3.23 million children were living with their single fathers.
  • In 2019, approximately 21,000 children under the age of one year lived with their divorced, single father.
  • In 2017, 21% of children under 18 years were living with single moms, whereas 4% were living with single dads.
  • Furthermore, global statistics show that 7% of children under the age of 18 live with their single parents.

Source: Statista

Unmarried/separated/divorced single parent statistics

Single parenthood can only be as a result of unmarried, separated, divorced, or bereaved parents. The following statistics touches on three of these causes, namely: divorce, separation, or children born out wedlock.

  • The percentage of children born to unmarried mothers increased by 3% between 2005 and 2018.
  • In 2019, there were approximately 5.89 million children aged between 1-17 years living with a single divorced parent in the US. Of this number, 77.03% live with a single mother, while 22.97% live with a single father.
  • On the other hand, in 2019, there were 2.45 million children aged between 1-17 years living with a single separated parent in the US. Of this number, 84.83% lived with their mother, whereas 15.17% lived with their father.
  • In 2017, 25% of parents living with a child in the US were unmarried.
  • Besides, in 2017, 35% of all unmarried parents in the US were cohabiting. Of this number, 18% are single moms and 17% are single dads.

Single parents by race

Single parenthood can be observed across cultures. As such, race is one of the factors to look into. This way, we can examine the extent of the occurrence of single parenthood across different ethnic groups.

The following single parent statistics offer an insight into the likelihood of solo parenthood occurring within the black, white, Hispanic, and Asian communities in the US.

  • In 2018, there were approximately 4.04 black families with a single mom in the US. On the other hand, 1.07 black families had a single dad.
  • Moreover, in 2018, 19.7% of white, non-Hispanic families had a single mother.
  • In 2018, there were 0.597 million Asian families with a single mom in the US, whereas 0.343 million Asian families had a single father.
  • On the other hand, in 2018, 3.25 million Hispanic families in the US had a single mom, whereas 1.58 million had a single father.

Source: Statista

Single parents by country

  • Countries with the highest rate of children living with single parents. US (23%), Russia (18%), Canada (15%), Germany (12%), Uganda (10%), Japan (7%), Mexico (7%), India (5%), and China (7%). (PEW Research 2)

It is easy to see that the number of single moms and dads has dropped over the last few years, but it’s still significantly high. Clearly, solo parenthood is no longer uncharted water. The severely lessened stigma that comes with it has given unmarried, separated, and divorced moms the space to succeed in raising their children.

In addition, the bond between marriage and parenthood has been massively eroded, and this has contributed significantly to the growing number of single parents. Besides, the millennial generation, which makes up the majority of young adults, have developed a different perspective on these social institutions.

Moreover, the availability of financial opportunities for moms has given members of this generation the motivation to go the extra mile to make ends meet without the full-time financial support of the child’s biological father. But, data also points to the rising number of single dads.

Single Parent Profile

In this section, we’ll reveal statistics that carve the profile of single parents in terms of their education, average income, and their probability to slide into poverty. As you will notice, single parents stare at a bleaker future and are more likely to be poor than married couples.

Single parents income statistics

Looking at the earnings of single dads vis a vis that of single moms, the numbers are worrying. In spite of the growing economic independence of women and the decreasing earning power of men, solo mothers are still earning way too low compared to solo fathers.

  • Single fathers in the US have a higher average taxable income ($56,458) than that of single moms ($35,287).
  • On the other hand, single mothers have a higher nonwork income ($4879) than that of single fathers ($1320).
  • However, when it comes to the total income, single dads have an upper hand ($57,778) compared to those of single mothers ($40,165).
  • Besides, 1 in every 3 single moms spends more than 50% of their income on housing.
  • In addition, 40% of single mothers in the US have jobs that offer low wages and have no paid leave.
  • Single fathers in the US have a median annual income of $40000.

Source: NCBI (2018)

Education levels of single parents statistics

In terms of educational attainment, it seems single mothers have the upper hand. Overall, the graph of single parents in terms of education is skewed towards those with a high school diploma or less. As you will notice, the story is glimmer at the other end of the educational ladder, as only a small percentage of the single parents are able to get university education.

  • The prevalence of single mothers that have lower educational attainment was most common in the US, UK, and Ireland in 2018 (20–25%).
  • In 2017, 45% of single parents in the US had a high school diploma or less, 35% were college graduates, and 20% had a bachelor’s degree.
  • Interestingly, 20% of single mothers and 26% of single fathers in the US don’t complete high school.

Poverty statistics

Poverty can be caused by many factors, but the subtle causes include lack of education, poor utilization of resources, and unemployment. Looking at these factors, we can confidently say that the plight of single parents makes them prone to poverty.

Data reveal that single parents from different ethnic strata live below poverty levels. Some, according to single parent statistics, have fallen into abject poverty and are struggling to feed their families.

  • In 2018, the rate of poverty for single-mother families in the US was. 24.9%.
  • Besides, in 2018, the poverty level of black families with a single mother was 29.4%.
  • Moreover, in 2018, about 19.6% of Asian families with a single mother in the US lived below the poverty level.
  • Furthermore, there were 324,000 white, non-Hispanic families with a single dad living below the poverty level in 2018.
  • 32.6% of single mothers are in the crisis category in terms of poverty, compared with 7.4% single fathers.
  • In addition, in 2017, 27% of solo parents were recorded as poor.
  • Furthermore, 2 in 3 single mothers are poor and receive reduced-price or free meals.

Black Single Mothers in the US Living in Poverty 2016-2018

Source: Statista

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Raising children alone isn’t a situation many parents choose or wish to be in. Many times, however, fate decides otherwise, forcing parents to run the race alone. Now, with the cost of raising children shooting upwards, employment opportunities decreasing, and the earning power declining, the odds are stacked against single parents. And in the midst of all the struggle, poverty has sharpened its claws waiting to pounce on those that gave up too soon.

Reasons for the Rise of Single Parenthood

Why is single parenthood on the rise? Data shows that the skyrocketing number of single moms and dads is a result of many driving factors. Key amongst them is the decreasing yet high divorce rates and the downhill trend taken by marriage rates. Of course, the overall acceptance of same-sex marriage among young people has played a part in pushing the rates of single parenthood through the roof.

Divorce rates, teenage pregnancy rates

Amazingly, the divorce rates in the United States are declining. However, the overall number of divorce cases is still astonishingly high. As a result, the falling rates have had only an infinitesimal impact on lowering the number of single parents. You can read our divorce statistics post to understand.

  • In 2017, 85% of families in the UK were single parents due to separation or divorce.
  • On the other hand, 84% of parents were single due to bereavement.
  • Besides, in 2018, the divorce rate in the US was 2.9%.

Decreasing marriage rates

The values of the traditional family settings have been diluted and this has been marked by the increase in “non-traditional” families. Today, marriage is regarded by many as an “obsolete” institution that often doesn’t preclude romantic relationships. The results? Well, the following single parent statistics paint the dull image of the declining marriage rates.

  • In 2018, the marriage rate in the US was 6.5%, a decrease from the 1990s level, which was 9.8%.
  • The support for the legalization of same-sex marriage has contributed to the increasing rates of single parenthood. In 2017, 62% of Americans supported the legalization of same-sex marriage.
  • The number of marriages in the US decreased by 103,643, between 2017 and 2018.

Percentage of Americans Who Supported Same-Sex Marriage

Source: Pew Research

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It’s clear that when marriage is impeded or broken, single parenthood is born. Beyond this, the shift in social values and norms, coupled with the reduction in the stigma associated with nonmarital childbearing and divorce, have massively contributed to the growing cases of single parenthood.

The above data has missed an intriguing point and we cannot afford to let it go untouched. Individualism has encouraged people, especially the younger generations, to put personal gratification above family responsibility. In some cases, people develop a tendency to ask for more than they can get from their marriages, and when expectations aren’t met, marriages go sour.

Challenges of Being a Single Parent Statistics

Nearly all cases of single parenthood are best defined as bittersweet love stories. Oftentimes, the journey begins with the sweet part in the shape of a romantic relationship and ends with bitter breakups. Where marriages are involved, these tussles often spill over to the corridors of justices in the form of custody battles. In other cases, love birds may have bitter breakups even before they walk down the aisle.

In all these cases, it’s a bare fact that one parent is left to shoulder all the responsibilities of bringing up the “fruits” of their broken relationships. Doing it all alone isn’t a piece of cake. It’s a tough journey that bombards the solo parent with all sorts of challenges, key amongst them being financial problems.

Data on custody cases

  • Approximately 50.2% of custodial parents had a legal or informal child support agreement in place in 2018.
  • Interestingly, in 2018, only 43.5% of custodial parents received the full amount of child support due.

Single parents struggle to meet basic needs

The lack of money causes anxiety for the population in general, let alone single parents. Running the household, raising children, and juggling between financial commitments are monstrous duties for solo parents. And, as shown by the following single parent statistics, many have crumbled to the pressure and are now languishing in poverty, unable to provide food and shelter.

  • 44% of single mothers in the world struggled to afford food in 2019.
  • Also, in the US, 40% of single moms had trouble affording food, whereas 27% struggled to afford shelter.
  • Countries with the highest rate of single moms who couldn’t afford shelter in 2019 include Lithuania (36%), Estonia (36%), France (30%), US (27%), and N. Macedonia. (24%).
  • Moreover, 65% of single moms in the Subsaharan African countries struggled to put food on the table in 2019.
  • Also, 15% of single mothers in the US have no healthcare.
  • By 2021, London’s single-parent households will be £2,400 a year worse off on average.

Single Moms Struggling to Afford Shelter in 2019 by Country

Single Moms Struggling to Afford Shelter in 2019 by Country
Lithuania: 36%


Single Moms Struggling to Afford Shelter in 2019 by Country
Estonia: 36%


Single Moms Struggling to Afford Shelter in 2019 by Country
France: 30%


Single Moms Struggling to Afford Shelter in 2019 by Country
USA: 27%


Single Moms Struggling to Afford Shelter in 2019 by Country
N.Macedonia: 24%



Source: Gallup

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Grandparents to the rescue

The adage “it takes a village to raise a child” doesn’t ring true in today’s society. This is simply because the village has shrunk and it continues to disappear with modernization. But even as the “village” leaves single parents to walk this journey alone, in some cases, blood proves to be thicker than water. Grandparents play a significant role and prove to be a reliable support system for single parents when the situation is dire.

  • Interestingly, 91% of single parents live alone with children, 7% live with the child’s grandparents, and 3% live with another adult who doesn’t necessarily help.
  • Grandparents support single parents by looking after young children (40%), providing financial help (27%), providing or cooking meals (24%), getting aloft in their car (21%), paying gardening, decorating, and house repair costs (17%), shopping for single moms (17%), and helping out with bills (6%).
  • Besides, 25% of solo parents were living with their parents in 2017.

Mental healths struggle

  • Worryingly, 20.6% of moms who were single at childbirth experienced postpartum depression.
  • In addition, 11.5% of young mothers who were cohabitating at childbirth experienced postpartum depression.
  • In another study, scientists found that single mothers had massively higher odds of getting mood disorders than married mothers.

The struggles that single parents face are as clear as day. However, the magnitude and impact of these challenges differ uniquely, depending on how the parent ended up going it alone. For example, those who are in it as a result of bereavement may have an entirely different financial situation compared to the divorced. Besides, a single mom with three children can have a steeper mountain to climb than a solo mom with one child.

On the brighter side, being a single parent doesn’t necessarily mean your life will be a string of hardships, mental struggle, and poverty. Data has shown that being a single mom doesn’t always mean being alone. With relatives, grandparents to be precise, lending a hand, there is hope that those that have been pushed by life into single parenthood can have the right support system to succeed.

Impact of Single Parenthood on Children

The transitions to and out of solo parenthood can have an impact on children’s mental and social health. Unfortunately, there is a scarcity of data with regard to the extent of this impact and how single parenthood affects the child’s likelihood to marry.

However, the stats below depicts the complex nature of the impact of single parenthood on a child’s life satisfaction, well-being, and peer relationships.

  • On a scale of 5, children who are raised by single parents have a higher degree of life satisfaction (2.22), compared to those previously raised by a single parent (2.19), and those raised in a nuclear family (2.02).
  • On the other hand, children from a nuclear family have the highest likelihood of having peer relationship problems (4.62). The probability is, however, low for children raised entirely by a single parent (4.02), and those raised by a parent who was once single (3.92).

Single Parents Have Every Reason to be Optimistic

And that’s just about it, a compilation of the latest single parent statistics to open your eyes on this weighty matter. One thing that shines through the entire compilation is negativity. Most of the statistics, data, and facts support the popular narrative about the challenges and struggles faced by single parents. But, we’ve to look at it from a different perspective and end this article on a positive note.

The truth is, single parenthood is on a steady upward trend, at least according to the available statistics, and the number is poised to continue rising. This can be attributed to the growing economic independence and greater control over childbearing enjoyed by modern women. Besides, technological advances have reduced the time required for housework, giving many a reason to believe that single parenthood is doable.

In addition, the stereotypes and stigma that went around single parenthood have been dispelled. As days go by, society is no longer viewing or making single parents the objects of scorn. Instead, many have embraced single parenthood, and regardless of why and how it happens, relatives are willingly lending a hand.

And then, the stories of single parents who beat the odds and left a mark on the society are beacons of hope for single parents. Angelina Jolie, Kanye West, Barack Obama, Halle Berry, and Cristiano Ronaldo are only some of the megastars raised by single mothers. Clearly, being a single parent doesn’t dim the chances of your child making it in life. If you step up to the challenge and go out of your way to make ends meet, you’ll surely enjoy the fruits of your labor later in life.


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  2. Children living with single divorced parents in the U.S. 2019, by age of a child
  3. Changing Fertility Regimes and the Transition to Adulthood: Evidence from a Recent Cohort
  4. One-third of U.S. children are living with an unmarried parent
  5. Percentage of Births to Unmarried Mothers
  6. The U.S. has the world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households
  7. Religion and Living Arrangements Around the World
  8. Custodial Parents Who Receive the Full Amount of Child Support
  9. Single Moms Struggling Worldwide, Particularly in the U.S.
  10. Families and households in the UK: 2017
  11. Single/lone parent families in 2019, by parent’s gender
  12. London’s poorest households hardest hit by tax and welfare changes
  13. Single-parent families and transitions over time.
  14. Single mother households in the U.S. 2018, by state
  15. Children living with single divorced parents in the U.S. 2019, by age of child
  16. Black single mothers in the U.S. 1990-2018
  17. Children living with a single separated parent in the U.S. in 2019, by age of child
  18. The poverty rate of Black single mothers U.S. 1990-2018
  19. The poverty rate of Asian families with a single mother in the U.S. 2002-2018
  20. Poverty rate of white, non-Hispanic single mother households U.S. 1990-2018
  21. Number of poor white, non-Hispanic single father households U.S. 1990-2018
  22. Number of Asian families with a single mother in the U.S. 2002-2018
  23. Inequalities in Poverty and Income between Single Mothers and Fathers
  24. Single-mother poverty: how much do educational differences in single motherhood matter?
  25. The Changing Profile of Unmarried Parents
  26. The Hard Truth: Single Moms vs Single Dads
  27. Marriage rate in the United States from 1990 to 2018
  28. Divorce rate in the United States from 1990 to 2018
  29. 8 facts about love and marriage in America
  30. Mental health in young mothers, single mothers and their children
  31. Single Mothers Have a Higher Risk of Mood Disorders

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