10 Interesting Studies that Focus on Single Parent Families

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Some estimates suggest that at least one half of American kids will spend part of their childhood in a single parent household. This has advocates of the traditional two parent family very concerned for the future of today’s youth. It’s commonly believed that children growing up in a single parent household have a tougher time than those in traditional families, but is this true? Following are 10 interesting studies on single parent families that may shed some light on the subject.

  1. Female-Headed Single Parent Families – This study done by Roshan “Bob” D. Ahuja and Kandi M. Stinson at Xavier University examines the relationships among selected characteristics of female-headed single parent families, and the influence the children have in the family decision making process. It focuses on consumer behavior research instead of possible family outcomes.
  2. U Study Looks at Race in Single Parent Families – Comparing census data from the past 130 years, this study done at the University of Minnesota focuses on racial differences in single parent families. History professor Steven Ruggles examines this very controversial subject in great depth.
  3. Case Studies: Lesbian mothers and single parents – An article written in The Guardian compares interviews by Joanna Moorhead and Julie Bindel on raising families without fathers. The focus on lesbian single mothers is an interesting twist to this type of research.
  4. Millennium Cohort Study – Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council in the UK, this study shows that some 12 per cent of children brought up by one parent displayed serious behavioral problems by the age of seven. In other words, kids with single parents are little brats.
  5. Single Parent Families in Poverty – Jacqueline Kirby, M.S. from the Ohio State University did this interesting study in the 1990’s. Her concerns focused on the economic issues facing single parent households whose numbers have exploded since 1970.
  6. Kamp Dush study – Author and assistant professor Claire Kamp Dush conducted a study that indicates family stability may be more crucial to a child’s success than two parents. She finds that children who are born and grow up in stable single-parent homes generally do as well as those in married households in terms of academic abilities and behavior problems.
  7. The Swedish study – Published in The Lancet medical journal, this study of nearly a million death statistics and hospital admissions revealed some startling results. Children growing up in single-parent households are twice as likely to suffer a mental illness, commit suicide or develop an alcohol-related disease as children who live with both parents.
  8. Sons of Single Moms Succeed – This interesting article in USA Today cites several experts that poke holes in the theory that males of single parent households are less likely to succeed. Using President Obama, Michael Phelps, Lance Armstrong and others as examples, Sharon Jayson reveals research to counter common beliefs about single parent households.
  9. A Comparison of Social Capital Between Parents in Single and Two Parent Families in Japan – Across the Pacific, Cherylynn Bassani of the University of British Columbia studied families in Japan. Her research focuses on the unique subject of social capital in various family structures.
  10. NIS-4 – The Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect focuses on child abuse in single parent families. It concludes that though the percentage is down, it’s still higher than in traditional two parent households.

Extensive research has been done around the globe to study the various effects on children raised in single parent families. There’s no doubt this statistic has increased over the years in several countries and many are concerned about some of the alarming results. Each individual circumstance is different and many kids raised with single parents turn out just fine. As these studies show, there are several factors that influence the outcomes of single parent households. When circumstances beyond anyone’s control put children in this situation, these challenges can be overcome. However, raising children without the help of a spouse is a far from ideal situation and probably shouldn’t be encouraged.

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