Single mom statistics (prepare to have your mind blown)

single mom statistics


Who are single moms today? Who do they really represent in today’s society? These single mom statistics, facts and figures might (okay, will!) surprise you!

Single mom statistics seriously show how vital we are.

There are 10 million single mother-lead families in the United States [1]. This is 3x the number in 1960. In addition:

  • 25% of families are headed by single moms. [2].
  • 40% of babies born in the United States are born to single mothers. [2]


Millennial single mom statistics

  • 57% of babies born to millennials were out of wedlock.
  • 64% of millennial moms reported at least one birth out of wedlock.

More educated millennials are having babies outside of marriage. Of millennial moms who have babies outside of marriage, 67% have some college education, and 32% have four or more years of higher education.  [3]


Older single mom statistics

  • 48% jump in births to unmarried women aged 35-39 (2007-12)
  • 29% jump in births to unmarried moms aged 40-44

While the rate of babies born to single mothers has declined slightly, there is a notable rise in babies born to single moms by choice – women who tend to be older, more educated, higher income. [3]


Single moms’ education and income

58% of single moms have attended college or have at least a bachelor’s degree [2]

Of millennial moms who have babies outside of marriage, 67% have some college education, and 32% have four or more years of higher education.  [3]

  • 32% earn $40,000+ [1]
  • 10% earn $80,000+  [1]


Single moms are overwhelmingly doing it all alone:

49% of custodial parents have child support agreements (informal or formal), but only 45% received all child support owed.

  • The median sum due is less than $400 per month. [1]
  • Of fathers who live apart from their children, only 22% of dads see their kids more than once per week. [5]


What is driving single mom trends?

There are 1.2 million divorces in the United States each year. [1]

Traditional nuclear families with two married heterosexual parents are now the minority of U.S. The rise of single motherhood is the largest influence on this trend — followed by gay families, multigenerational families and .  [6]

46% millennials and 44% GenXers say “Marriage is becoming obsolete.”  [7]



Related articles on single moms

Not all of those mothers were single: Many were living with partners. Among high school graduates, depicted in the chart below, for instance, 28 percent of children were born to cohabiting couples. Combine that with the 41 percent of children born to married couples, then most babies were born into two-parent households. The problem is that cohabiting couples don’t always last[9]. Their relationships fare better than parents who aren’t living together at all, but frequently the mother ends up raising a child alone. [8]

“Once largely limited to poor women and minorities, motherhood without marriage has settled deeply into middle America. The fastest growth in the last two decades has occurred among white women in their 20s who have some college education but no four-year degree. Among mothers of all ages, a majority — 59 percent in 2009 — are married when they have children. But the surge of births outside marriage among younger women — nearly two-thirds of children in the United States are born to mothers under 30 — is both a symbol of the transforming family and a hint of coming generational change.” [10]

CDC Unmarried Childbearing Statistics [11]

“Single parent households exist in a different socioeconomic pool than married households. Single mothers earn incomes that place them well below married mothers in the income ladder. According to Pew, married mothers earned a median family income of $80,000 in 2011, almost four times more than families led by a single mom. This is likely a consequence of the lower educational qualifications of single mothers, as well as the fact that they are younger and more likely to be black or Hispanic. Married mothers tend to be older and are disproportionately white and college-educated.” [12]

“Throughout history, marriage and parenthood have been linked milestones on the journey to adulthood. But for the young adults of the Millennial Generation, these social institutions are becoming delinked and differently valued. Today’s 18- to 29-year-olds value parenthood far more than marriage.”[7]

Considering the fact that “black fatherhood” is a phrase that is almost always accompanied by the word “crisis” in U.S. society, it’s understandable that the CDC’s results seem innovative. But in reality, the new data builds upon years of research that’s concluded that hands-on parenting is similar among dads of all races, and the CDC found that black dads are more involved with their kids on a daily basis than dads from other racial groups.[13]

“The role of fathers in the modern American family is changing in important and countervailing ways. Fathers who live with their children have become more intensely involved in their lives, spending more time with them and taking part in a greater variety of activities. However, the share of fathers who are residing with their children has fallen significantly in the past half century.” [14]

“When marriage was the near-universal norm in American society, a pregnancy out of wedlock pushed a couple toward one of four choices: shotgun wedding; adoption; abortion; or single motherhood, in that order of social acceptability. The result was a society in which both abortion and single motherhood were rare.

The abortion spike between 1975 and 1990 reflected a new ranking of acceptable responses to an unmarried pregnancy: abortion, single parenthood, shotgun wedding, and adoption, in that order.”[15]

“Children growing up with a single mother are exposed to more family instability and complexity, they have more behavior problems, and they are less likely to finish high school or attend college than children raised by both of their parents. On the other hand, these differences in children’s behavior and success might well be traceable to differences that would exist even if the biological father were present.”[16]


  1. United States Census Bureau. “ 10.6.2017.
  2. The Rise Of Single Fathers – A ninefold increase since 1960: Pew Research Center. July 2, 2013.
  3. John’s Hopkins University. February 2, 2012.
  4. National Vital Statistics Reports – Births: Final Data for 2015. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2015.
  5. A Tale of Two Fathers. More are active, but more are absent: Pew. Gretchen Livingston, Kim Parker. June 15, 2011.
  6. It’s no longer a “Leave It to Beaver’ world for American families – but it wasn’t back then, either: Pew Research Center. December 30, 2015.
  7. For Millenials, Parenthood Trumps Marriage: Pew Research Center. March 9, 2011.
  8. For Millennials, Out-of-Wedlock Childbirth Is the Norm: Slate. June 23, 2014.
  9. Family Instability and Complexity after a Nonmarital Birth:
    Outcomes for Children in Fragile Families: Princeton University. May 22, 2009.
  10. For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage: NYTimes.
  11. Unmarried Childbearing: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2015.
  12. The Mysterious and Alarming Rise of Single Parenthood in AmericaThe Atlantic. Aparna Mathur, Hao Fu, Peter Hansen. September 3, 2013.
  13. The Myth of The Absent Black Father: ThinkProgress. Tara Culp-Ressler. January 26, 2014.
  14. A Tale of Two Fathers. More are active, but more are absent: Pew. Gretchen Livingston, Kim Parker. June 15, 2011.
  15. Why Is The Abortion Rate Falling?: The Atlantic. David Frum. Dec 1, 2014.
  16. Was Moynihan Right? What happens to children of unmarried mothers: EducationNext. Sarah Mclanahan, Christopher Jencks. 2015.
Being a single mom is on the rise. Here are the postive statistics of being a single mom today.

39 thoughts on “Single mom statistics (prepare to have your mind blown)

  1. I see these statistics yet wonder why there continues to be so much stigmatizing of single mothers. I honestly never thought much about it until my husband I separated 11 months ago and I eventually moved to another state with my kids to finish a graduate program. I have found myself reading all sorts of stuff about single motherhood and frankly I’m shocked at some of the negative stereotypes associated with a woman raising her kids herself. I am well-educated and working on a second Masters degree. I worked several years before having my kids and taking time off to be with them while they were young. I saved, planned and paid off student loans. My husband found greener pastures and I was faced with either accepting his behavior towards me and my kids or extricating myself from the situation. There have been lots of consequences for me which I am unhappy about but I never thought I’d encounter some of the social stigma that society seems to project towards a single mother. Frequently women become single parents because a spouse walks out, engages in infidelity, abuse, death. And those unmarried women who experience an unplanned pregnancy seem to be damned if they do damned if they don’t based on some of the deeply embedded social beliefs in this country. While you’d think we’d be cheering on a woman who decides to continue the pregnancy and make the sacrifices to raise a child we have segments of the population criticizing her or blaming her for all sorts of social ills. And if she doesn’t choose to continue the pregnancy and raise a child solo well we all get to hear about that topic in the news just about everyday. I can only hope as we see more single mothers successfully raising their children society will become more accepting and respectful of these nontraditional families. What I found even more interesting was an article regarding while we demonize single mothers we tend to martyr single dads. He is some sort of novelty and must really care about his kids. I found myself guilty of some of this myself I realized when I would extend extra credit to a single dad than a single mom. I am now more aware of how these rather archaic attitudes are deeply ingrained in many of us and its not until I find myself transitioning from nuclear family to a non-traditional family experience that I’ve become cognizant of these perceptions. So I hope stats and websites like this help us to change such anachronistic views of single mothers and nontraditional family structures. Maybe they’re more the norm than we’ve been led to believe for a long time.

    1. I completely agree with everything you wrote, but in the last 6 months- year I have started to notice some big changes …. Lifetime auditioned me for a show called Millionaire Single Moms, brands are reaching out to me in an effort to connect with single moms in a non-patronizing way. Things are changing, slowly but surely!

    2. Because statistically children with absentee fathers do not perform as well in society? How is that not clear to you? Wanna know what every sociopath, career criminal and hardcore addict have in common? No father figure. Go figure that Asian Americans out perform every demographic in every aspect of society, their unstable/non-traditional family and absentee father rate is only like 17%

      1. Oh my God, Cameron. I assume you’ll not return here to read my response to you, but perhaps you will. Unstable and non-traditional doesn’t equal poor outlook. Unstable can also mean abusive “non-absentee” father. Sure, the statistics talk about fathers who are involved in kids’ lives equate to more success. But there’s no research on what happens when the same exists in an abusive household. Well I’ll tell you from my own personal experience that although my ex has an MBA and is “educated” by most standards, he’s uneducated in the methods of effective communication and successful parenting. My ex was on the sociopath spectrum as a narcissist and our relationship together was FAR worse for my kids. We still struggled financially even though we made enough. Each time I attempted to work outside the home, or start a business he would suddenly create so much turmoil that on one occasion, my daughter was hospitalized with a stress-related near life-threatening condition that no doctor could properly assess. It was a scary and horrific time. In my kids’ eyes, they saw me as the oppressed, non-working mom. I never planned this for myself, and I’m an educated woman. It happened very slowly and I found myself out-dated in skills and exhausted without income. This isn’t the way to raise kids-
        girls or boys. So I’m not sure where you get this idea – sometimes stats aren’t the reality. Statistics can LIE. It’s so easy to skew findings. So unless you’ve been there yourself, be careful about stating these types of things. You have NO idea unless you’ve lived it. I was once that person, so I can now state without question that this type of thinking must stop. Many very intelligent women are getting caught in the crossfire. I’m expecting to get out of this at some point – but at the moment it’s still stressful – 1.5 years after.

        And because of the aftermath of dealing with their Dad, I’ve had to put my kids in therapy and they’re still dealing with issues. I work long and hard to ensure they know they’re loved, they’re able to be successful, regardless and in fact because of this. And I occasionally take on the traditional male role of tough love.

        On the flip side, I happen to know of TWO highly successful Asians with abusive parental circumstances and who left as soon as possible. They do not have close adult relationships with their parents and they are very successful financially, however, one doesn’t have great relationships herself – and is now a single parent; the other had no desire to marry an Asian, though that wasn’t his family’s wish.

    3. These statistics are insanely biased. Based on these same percentages 58% of single mothers make less than 35k. We all know that is far from enough to raise a family with more than one child. Also, 67% have some college education means nothing. Who ever got a job saying I almost have a degree? I almost qualify for this job? It just means that 67% Don’t have a college degree and are getting the same jobs you can get with a high school or associates degree. Hence the less than 35k a year issue. These statistics also fail to mention how children from one parent families tend to do worse in school. Which pretty much determines if and where they go to college and what they do afterwards. Also, it’s a very different thing to have been married, have an education and started a family with the proper foundation but eventually get divorced or widowed than it is to get pregnant out of wedlock. If your partner isn’t ready to marry you they aren’t ready to have children with you. Knowing the uphill struggle to raise a family as a single parent. Why would you get out of your way to do so? Note, I have nothing against single parents that are divorced or widow. Life happens. I just don’t think it should be glorified. It seems as if women are getting out of their way have children out of wedlock and putting themselves and their children in an unnecessarily difficult situation.

      1. You did your math wrong its 68% who make less than 40k, the 10% who make more than 80k are included in the 32% that make more than 40k.

      2. Sorry— I have 2 Master Degrees, Homeowner, clear WELL into 6 figures, and have great role models for my african american son who is now 7. Additionally, I have 3 educated brothers ( 2 which are married) and parents that live in 50 minute proximity. Parents who have been married for 54 years. So with that said, I made a decision at 31 that I was so tired of dating these shiftless dudes that had a great Resume and no moral fabric. YEs, they were black men, educated , some highly educated– but again no sense of wanting to settle down with a decent educated sister like myself. THEREFORE, i spent the following 2 years after my 31st birthday deciding to focus on who would be a great father. Long story short.. my son is now 7 , he’ s dad I started dated in the interim after the birth, and we just broke up a few months ago… BOTTOM LINE…. experiencing motherhood was my initial focus and was the prize. Anything after was a bonus. I love the idea of a nuclear family— but it did not happen as of yet. You can get married at 90…try birthing a baby at 90… I think NOT. I am continuing to ENJOY Motherhood. ( My son loves piano, soccer, tennis, golf, advanced math classes and is reading entire grade above his current grade). MY MOTTO IS ‘ just let people do whatever they want to do– it is their life not mine. Only GOD can judge you. Struggle— please my support system ( parents and brothers) the best husband I never had. LOL!!! I’m still hopeful on positive and rewarding marriage NOT just any marriage will do. Hats off to dedicated single parents ( moms and dads) and all dedicated parents for that matter. If parents stopping parenting our society is DOOMED.

        1. I doubt that your son will accomplish a fraction of what you have accomplished. Men have it woven into their DNA to compete against their fathers. A boys first competitor is not society or other boys its his father. It is nothing mean or evil its just the way men are created. Men do not have that same drive to compete against their mother. Boys do not see their mother as a competitor. Its not a coincidence that black women have outgained black men when raised by single mothers. Black girls compete against their mothers from preteens on. Regardless of what you do or provide it will not replace the drive he would have had if he was raised and saw what his father has accomplished. This is a hard pill for the so call educated strong black woman to swallow.

      3. I can vouge. My X- wanted a baby more than a family so you guessed it she bailed out 2 months into our planned pregnancy. She dangles a family life and my daughter who will be 2 soon. Everything seems to be getting progressively worse and favoring her including custody court now !! I wanted more and am being outright stripped of any dreams. This should be a crime! Please help I’m trying best I can

        1. What the mother of your daughter did is fundamentally wrong. She will most likely become the custodial parent, unless she is a convicted felon or has a documented drug problem. Furthermore, you will be expected to pay child support until your daughter is 18 years old. The same thing happened to me, my wife walked out on me right after our daughters first birthday. I was a dedicated and involved father, and I continue to be. I have never missed a child support payment and I have never missed a visitation. Women who do this are absolute sociopaths, and are very selfish. I’m afraid you will be dealing with this woman for many years to come, if you choose to do the right thing and stay in your daughter’s life. I wish you all the best, I am on a similar Journey. Best of luck.

    4. +Ace I’m probably better off than you though. 210lb male mountain of muscle, persevered despite being raised mostly by a single mother.

    5. All these statistics lack an intersectional analysis – the poor outcomes of children from single mother households are highly correlated to racial and economic factors, which are correlated to each other. For example, boor black children are much more likely to live in a single mother household. Poor black children are much more likely to be zoned for failing schools that lack resources to nurture their intellect. It’s a long history of white oppression of blacks through the American system, beginning with slavery, that persist. Now that educated/white women are becoming single mothers, the mainstream is becoming interested. For example, the success of this blog. Let’s not forget all our sisters out here!

  2. The 22% statement about fathers seeing their kids is not the whole story and miss represented on this page. The 22% is only of the population of divorced fathers who at no point during the year habe lived with their child. So fathers who get nights or weekends, or summers with their kids are not part of the population that the 22% is taken from.

    1. A simple reading of the paper, 73% of all fathers have atleast co residence with their children. That leaves 27% of fathers that do not have co residence. So that means 6% of all fathers see there kids atleast once a week and 21% of fathers do not see their atleast once a week

      1. Correct it is fathers who live apart from their childrent for the entire year. Fathers who share a residence with their children at any time during the year are not part of this population on this survey. The paper explicitly defines what populations were surveyed for what questions.

          1. Yes, but when you state, “…only 22% of dads see their kids more than once per week,” the use of “only” in your reference to the stat somewhat implies that 78% of dads have no interest in seeing their kids. Furthermore, while I don’t have an immediate reference to offer, there are plenty of cases where custodial mothers deny the father’s of their children any visitation. Many without any legitimate reason for said denial. They denial their children the right to see their fathers for reasons none other than the fact that the relationship didn’t work out and the Father has moved on with his life and found a new partner.

            Father’s rights in Family Law/child custody and child support matters are essentially non-existent. Our judicial system continues to favor mothers over fathers. The system turns a blind eye to mothers who regularly commit perjury by making false and unfounded allegations of domestic and/or child abuse. It’s a sad injustice to the good men and fathers out there who are being denied access to their children because of bitter ex-girlfriends and/or spouses.

  3. I was raised by a single mother of three. I was the oldest and shouldered a lot of responsibility caring for my siblings. I was the classic poster-child for the latch-key kid of the 80s as a GenXer. My mother was divorced due to my dad’s choice to be unfaithful. My dad also chose to be a deadbeat and fled the country to avoid alimony and child support. He started a second family in Panama and never reached out to his first family, us. Growing up was hard, making ends meet harder, we went through some government aid, and we experienced homelessness when my mother was between jobs. The silver lining was qualifying for aid in addition to receiving merit-based aid. Contrary to some statistics, my siblings and I all went to college, all graduated, all married and are now raising our kids in two-parent homes.

    I honestly do not know what is harder today: kids growing up without any father figure (like I did) or growing up in a custodial ping pong situation. When there is a dad somewhat present, it makes it harder for some kids to apply for college aid, yet that does not mean the financial support is consistent. Once a parent is no longer legally obligated to fund a kid, is it likely that the parent will continue to do so? Some do and some do not. Some divorced moms have to wrangle continuously for economic support or custody. It is a never-ending source of stress and instability.

    I can see where some millenials choose to avoid dependence and constant fighting and go it alone. I do not condone having children on purpose without a network of parents, extended family or community support, but I can understand that sometimes older women without the prospect of this network might choose to experience motherhood, especially if they can financially support themselves.

    Marriage never offers guaranties of a happy and peaceful life for anyone but I think we have forgotten that the purpose of marriage was to offer stability for children. When that stability is threatened by domestic abuse, etc. it gives marriage a bad rap and people might as well damn marriage as an archaic and useless social convention. BUT, if we understand marriage to be based on trust, respect, commitment, self-discipline and selflessness, you might even get to understand marriage as something built on deep friendship and even love. Those are all qualities we try to teach our children and we hope our children experience. That is what we honor most in marriage and makes it something to aspire to experience.

    But marriage takes effort and sadly that is in short supply. Raising children takes effort and it takes a village, as they say. And while you can find those positive qualities without a marriage certificate, the commitment to children includes providing for their material needs and, yes, a marriage certificate is a legal document that is meant to provide some legal and financial securities. But marriage should not be considered a business deal which is what we see too often from Hollywood. Pre-nups or not, we tend to focus on the dollar amounts gained from the transactions of a divorce. If that is the point of marriage (making a good return of investment), then it adds impetus to avoid marriage “deals”.

    Returning to the point, regardless of what the statistics say about single mothers, I think we simply have to extend a helping hand, when wanted and needed, to the single mother for the sake of the kids. That is hard to do because many single moms have their dignity and do not want handouts; some do not need them. However, the kids do not have to be statistics of poverty. Share a lunch, share a ticket, share some time, share the love.

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  5. Yeah, I have to agree with some of these other commenters. You’re really distorting the findings of the John Hopkins report entirely.

    Your words: More educated millennials are having babies outside of marriage. Of millennial moms who have babies outside of marriage, 67% have some college education, and 32% have four or more years of higher education

    John’s Hopkins Report:” Figure 1 – continued.
    C. Women with one to three years of college completed (27% OF ALL BIRTHS).”

    You quoted three times that amount at 67% … Is blindly spewing empowering numbers really portraying a great image for a wealthySMARTsinglemommy?

  6. I think it is so hard to raise kids without some help. A partner is ideal because that usually means more money and more time to devote to the children but extended family, or friends can compensate for that. There seems to be a lack of an effective social safety net for poor single moms, who most need it. I think the Emma’s of the world are heroes but you are a winner and so many single moms can’t picture themselves being so strong and confident. I admire you for being an example that while the odds may be tougher than they should be they aren’t insurmountable. Complaining about problems has a place but helping to fix them, that’s a way higher calling!

  7. LOL So this is why this Baby Alive doll I bought last night from Target has a setting for greeting moms and a separate setting for greeting dads. We’re taking over!

  8. Dear women, here is the secret: Please stop whoring around and then later expecting a man with high morals and a sense of responsibility to marry you. Such a man abhors you and only considers you useful a sex toy. No man is proud to present you as his wife after you have satisfactorily ‘explored your sexuality’. And we know that all women lie about these numbers.
    For those who are abandoned it is because while you were young and pretty, you aimed for a ‘socially top’ guy who settled for you because he couldn’t get the hotter girls as they were busy dating older guys with more money. When he is older and can get the younger hot ones, he then goes for them. It is a screwed dating world because everyone wants to get a good deal, in other words; we all want to be the more messed up ones in the relationship.
    Good luck to those who are still into relationships ! Enjoy your Godless mess.
    PS. For the christian women; stop expecting Boaz (or Joseph) to marry you when you have the character of Delilah (or Jezebel).

  9. What I’m wondering is if all these single moms are so educated and have high paying jobs, why do they need child support from the father.. Key word “SUPPORT” which means they can’t take care of the child by themselves cause if they could they wouldn’t be going to court for “SUPPORT” think about it.

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