Single mothers’ income in twelve rich countries: differences in disadvantage across the distribution

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

July 15, 2022


I examine how single motherhood affects income in different quantiles of the distribution in twelve rich countries. Using harmonized data from the Luxembourg Income Study, I show how the distribution of income for households headed by single mothers differs from households with children that are headed by couples. I show that there is a striking variation by country in the influence of single motherhood on income at different points of the distribution. In some countries, such as the United Kingdom, single motherhood has a greater effect on income at the top of the distribution than at the bottom. In others, such as the United States, effects are largest at the bottom of the distribution. I discuss the role of employment and social policies in driving differences between countries in the income penalties associated with single motherhood across the distribution.

Published in

Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 702 , p.164 -187





Related Publications



Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest