WHER Chat: U.S. Has Highest Rate of Children in Single-Parent Households

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Burgandy Basulto is a Content Writer at NAWRB. She has a bachelor’s degree in both English and Philosophy, and a master’s degree in Philosophy. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves running, kickboxing, watching films, trying new restaurants she finds via Yelp, and experiencing other cultures during her travels.

A Pew Research Center report reveals that the United States has the highest rate of children living in single-parent households in the world, according to findings from their recent study that reviewed 130 different countries. Twenty-three percent of children in the U.S. under the age of 18, almost a quarter, live with one parent and no other adults. This is thrice the share of children around the world who live with one parent. 

The intent of the Pew Research Center’s study was to analyze how people’s living arrangements differed by religion, and the researchers found that U.S. children in Christian and religiously unaffiliated families are just as likely to live with a single parent as general findings. In comparison, 15 percent of children in Canada, three percent of children in China, four percent of children in Nigeria, and five percent of children in India share this living arrangement.

Researchers often have different criteria for categorizing single-parent households. The researchers in the Pew Research Center’s report defined single-parent households as a “sole adult living with at least one biological, step or foster child under age 18.” In contrast, other organizations like the U.S. Census Bureau have also included households that have grandparents and other relatives or cohabitating partners present. 

While children in the U.S. are more likely to live with a single parent than anywhere else in the world, they are less likely to live in extended families, such as with aunts, uncles and grandparents compared to children in other countries – eight percent compared to 38 percent of children globally. 

Economic well-being is often a factor in household size, according to the report, as living in extended families is linked with lower levels of economic development. In these types of households, financial resources are stretched further, and domestic chores and childcare become easier as there are more people to help accomplish these tasks.

In contrast, relatively small households are found in economically advanced countries, including the U.S., countries in Europe and northern Asia. The average person in the U.S. lives in a home of 3.4 people, which is lower than the global average of 4.9 but slightly higher than the European average of 3.1. 

Read the full report here


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