Analysis of the dynamics of lone parent families: report to the Department of Social Security

Publication type

Research Paper

Series Number



Working Papers of the ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change


Publication date

August 1, 1998


This paper has used the British Household Panel Study to analyse women's flows into and out of lone parenthood in conjunction with other demographic transitions which affect the populations 'at risk' to become lone parents. It is rates of partnership dissolution, out-of- partnership first birth and new partnering by lone mothers which have the major impact on the percentage of families with dependent children who are headed by lone parents. The primary focus of the analysis is on examining variation in these rates in relation to demographic and socio-economic characteristics of women. Women's age at the start of a spell and spell duration are important in accounting for this variation, but in addition, the transition rates, particularly the rates of inflow into lone parenthood, vary with socio-economic circumstances of women. This covariation suggests that women in more difficult economic circumstances are 'selected into' lone parenthood, but lone mothers' economic circumstances appear to have little influence on the duration of lone parenthood.





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