ERIC Number: ED425039
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1995-Jan
Reference Count: N/A
"The Single-Parent Family" and Welfare Reform: Is Marriage the Solution?
Fitchen, Janet M.
Community Development: Research Briefs & Case Studies, v3 n1 Jan 1995
Many proposals for welfare reform center on the issue of marriage-based families versus single-parent families and oversimplify the relationship between single-parenting and poverty. Research done in upstate rural New York among low-income families showed that personal and economic characteristics of married and single mothers were similar as to age range, average age at birth of first child, and number of children. Single-parent families fall into four groups, suggesting that different strategies would be needed to reduce their reliance on public assistance: young and never married, young and separated or divorced, older and never married, and older and separated or divorced. The study concludes that the "single-parent family" as a category of analysis has the following policy-relevant shortcomings: misleading contrast between households with unmarried mothers and those with married mothers, implied uniformity of families within each category, and lack of temporal and qualitative dimensions. Policy recommendations include reducing birth rates among single women, evaluating employability of prospective husbands, full and regular payment of child support, assessment of violent or abusive marital status, and evaluating use of extended families. Keeping rural single mothers and their children out of poverty requires strengthening the economy so that adequate jobs are available for women and for men, reducing the gender-based earnings gap, and providing more opportunities for advancement above starting wage levels. A pro-marriage policy is no substitute for an anti-poverty policy. (Author/SAS)
Publication Type: Collected Works - Serials; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY. Community and Rural Development Inst.