The Rise of Single Fathers

According to a recent report from the Pew Research Center based on the analysis of Decennial Census and American Community Survey data, the number of single father households has increased about ninefold since 1960, from less than 300,000 to more than 2.6 million in 2011.

In comparison, the number of single mother households increased more than fourfold during that time period, up to 8.6 million in 2011, from 1.9 million in 1960. As a result, men make up a growing share of single parent householders. In 1960, about 14% of single parent households were headed by fathers, today almost one-quarter (24%) are.


There are some notable differences between single mothers and single fathers. Single fathers are more likely than single mothers to be living with a cohabiting partner (41% versus 16%). Single fathers, on average, have higher incomes than single mothers and are far less likely to be living at or below the poverty line—24% versus 43%. Single fathers are also somewhat less educated than single mothers, older and more likely to be white. Compared with fathers heading households with two married parents, single dads are younger, less educated, less financially well-off and less likely to be white.
Sue Hodge

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