Pew: Single-father households hit record 8 percent

By Kristen Butler,  |  July 2, 2013 at 4:59 PM
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A record 8 percent of American households with minor children are now headed by single fathers, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

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 from 1.9 million in 1960 up to 8.6 million in 2011.

Mothers still head the majority of single-parent households, but 24 percent are now led by fathers, up from 14 percent in 1960.

Overall, 67 percent of households with minor children are headed by two married parents; in 1960, this share was 92 percent.

The term ‘single father’ includes men who are separated, divorced, widowed or never married. About 52 percent are living without a cohabiting partner; 41 percent are living with a non-marital partner; and 7 percent are married but living apart from their spouse.

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.

Although single fathers overall are somewhat less educated than single mothers, they on average have higher incomes, are older and are more likely to be white. Single fathers are less likely to live at or below the poverty line, at 24 percent compared to 43 percent of single mothers.

Single fathers are much more likely to be living with a cohabiting partner, at 41 percent compared to just 16 percent of single mothers. Cohabiting single fathers are typically younger, less educated and more likely to be living in poverty than fathers raising children without a partner in the household.

Nineteen percent of single dads lack a high school diploma, while just 10 percent of married fathers lack one. Among single mothers, this share is 15 percent. Just 17 percent of single fathers and 18 percent of single mothers have a bachelor’s degree.

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