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

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]


Single motherhood by age, race and class

“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]


Marriage and parenthood are no longer linked

“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]


Black dads spend more time, and more quality time with their children than any other race

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]


Today, fathers are more hands-on, even though dads are less likely to live with their children

“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]


There are more single moms because it is more acceptable to be a single mom

“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 shotgun marriage seemed an increasingly outrageous imposition to meet increasingly irrelevant social expectations.
After 1970, adoption of native-born American children by non-related parents rapidly dwindled.
Yet outright single motherhood remained comparatively unusual for middle-class Americans, and especially for white middle-class Americans.
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]

Do children of single parents have more problems?

“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]


More reading:

Who gets to call themselves a ‘single mom'?

Close the pay gap? Get dads involved? Do this

Related documentary and books on shared parenting:

Recommended shared parenting documentary: Divorce Corp

Kickass Single Mom, Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children, By: Emma Johnson

Blend, The Secret to Co-Parenting and Creating a Balanced Family, By: Mashonda Tifrere

Co-parenting with a Toxic Ex: What to Do When Your Ex-Spouse Tries to Turn the Kids Against You, By: by Amy J. L. Baker, PhD and Paul R Fine, LCSW

Divorce Poison: How to Protect Your Family from Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing, By: Dr. Richard A. Warshak


References

    1. United States Census Bureau. “https://www.census.govretrieved 10.6.2017.
    1. The Rise Of Single Fathers – A ninefold increase since 1960: Pew Research Center. July 2, 2013.
    1. John's Hopkins University. February 2, 2012.
    1. National Vital Statistics Reports – Births: Final Data for 2015. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2015.
    1. A Tale of Two Fathers. More are active, but more are absent: Pew. Gretchen Livingston, Kim Parker. June 15, 2011.
    1. 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.
    1. For Millenials, Parenthood Trumps Marriage: Pew Research Center. March 9, 2011.
    1. For Millennials, Out-of-Wedlock Childbirth Is the Norm: Slate. June 23, 2014.
    1. Family Instability and Complexity after a Nonmarital Birth:
      Outcomes for Children in Fragile Families: Princeton University. May 22, 2009.
    1. For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage: NYTimes.
    1. Unmarried Childbearing: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2015.
    1. The Mysterious and Alarming Rise of Single Parenthood in AmericaThe Atlantic. Aparna Mathur, Hao Fu, Peter Hansen. September 3, 2013.
    1. The Myth of The Absent Black Father: ThinkProgress. Tara Culp-Ressler. January 26, 2014.
    1. A Tale of Two Fathers. More are active, but more are absent: Pew. Gretchen Livingston, Kim Parker. June 15, 2011.
    1. Why Is The Abortion Rate Falling?: The Atlantic. David Frum. Dec 1, 2014.
  1. EducationNext.org: Was Moynihan Right? What happens to children of unmarried mothers: EducationNext. Sarah Mclanahan, Christopher Jencks. 2015.

About Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, noted blogger, and bestselling author. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.  Find out Emma's top Single Mom Resources here.

60 Comments

  1. Darious Rodgers on April 23, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    Yr figures are wrong just fake news.Seeing the black dads are the most involved…
    Knew something was up
    our community will never improve if ppl like u continue to whitewash our true problems. How bout instead of generalizing yr past relationship problems to our culture try reporting TRUTH next time
    #FakeNews
    #fakestats

  2. Frank on March 11, 2019 at 11:16 pm

    Statements recognizing this huge increase in single mothers doesn’t support any position that this is a good trend, in fact statistics show its actually detrimental to humanity. Men are going MGTOW because of silly articles trying to justify and normalize this ridiculous trend. Women just be the women you were meant to be not who these people tell you to be.

  3. […] Thankfully, I’ve never been the type to let these kinds of experiences weigh me down. I retain them as important lessons but don’t allow them to color my attitude or steal my joy. While I’ve encountered my share of naysayers, I’m fortunate to have been supported and uplifted by a great many men and women throughout my life. I wish the same kind of support, resilience and optimism for every one of the 10 million single working mothers in the United States today. […]

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