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July 09, 2013

The Rise of Single Fathers

Via Noah Berlatsky, a new Pew study on single fathers:

A record 8% of households with minor children in the United States are headed by a single father, up from just over 1% in 1960, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Decennial Census and American Community Survey data.

The number of single father households has increased about ninefold since 1960, from less than 300,000 to more than 2.6 million in 2011.1 In comparison, the number of single mother households increased more than fourfold during that time period, up to 8.6 million in 2011, from 1.9 million in 1960.

As a result, men make up a growing share of single parent householders. In 1960, about 14% of single parent households were headed by fathers, today almost one-quarter (24%) are.


The Pew studies contain quite a bit of food for thought. For instance, I was surprised that the majority of families with children are still two-parent households. This surprised me quite a bit, too:


There's a more comprehensive slideshow of key findings here for those who are interested. Full report here.

Posted by Cassandra at July 9, 2013 06:43 AM

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A lot of very interesting statistics on that site, but I think the one you posted was in some ways the most interesting.

Posted by: Texan99 at July 9, 2013 11:06 AM

For once, I thought I'd leave the interpretation to others :p

Posted by: Cass at July 9, 2013 11:20 AM

I don't have time to look at the report right now, but if someone already has: How is a father (or mother for that matter) with joint custody classified? A friend of mine has 4 kids. The kids alternate weeks with each parent. If each are considered "single father/mother". The rise may be due to an increase in the rates of joint custody rather than an increase in fathers having sole custody.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 9, 2013 01:44 PM

A footnote in one of the links says, "It is not possible to determine if these single fathers have full-time or part-time custody of their children using Census or American Community Survey data".

I kind of figured that was the case, but then I'm not sure most "single mother" stats make that distinction either.

Posted by: Cass at July 9, 2013 01:48 PM

That's what I figured, but I thought it might be interesting whether the increase was a shift from sole custody with the mother to joint custody, versus sole custody with the father. That might tell two different stories.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 9, 2013 07:50 PM

This is a *huge* issue.
My daughter is going through a divorce, with mutually agreed equal custody. My landlord is in a fight w/ his daughter's mother over visitation.

Most of the time when there is a separation of mom and dad while kids are young, the kid(s) are trapped into a blended family, in which there is often hostility between their very own parents.
> this is tragic for the kids, and has long term societal consequences.

Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at July 9, 2013 11:22 PM

Cool! Does this mean we can now start turning single-fatherhood into a heroic, noble, and permanent victimhood status like single moms?

Posted by: a former european at July 9, 2013 11:30 PM