Study Shatters Myth That Single Mothers Are Less Likely To Be In Employment


by Grazia |
Published on

There is a common myth that single mothers are less likely to be in work than women who have no children, because they rely on and live off benefits. However, a new study has upended this prevailing assumption and calls for the demonisation of single mothers that exists in popular culture, politics and the media to be reassessed.

As reported by The Independent, the percentage of single parents (mostly women) in employment is pretty much equal to the percentage of childless women (or women whose children are grown-up) in employment: 67.8 percent and 68.6 percent respectively.

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The percentage of single mothers in employment has risen an incredible 24 percent in just over 20 years, and according to the Office for National Statistics figures, three out of four married or cohabiting mothers are working.

The social assumption that single mothers are work-shy and depend wholly on benefits has stemmed from the government and the media ‘demonising’ them, believes Paul Gregg, a board member of the Social Mobility Commission. ‘Lone mothers were demonised by the Conservative Party and sympathetic media,’ says Gregg, ‘and were widely seen as the major social policy problem of the day.’

Gregg is referring to a 1993 Tory party conference in which Peter Lilley, former secretary for social security, labelled single mothers as ‘benefits driven’ and ‘undeserving’.

According to Gregg, social attitudes around single mothers started to shift with the introduction of ‘text credits [for] part time work’ along with ‘increasingly available childcare’ producing ‘transformational change in lone mothers’ employment and workless poverty’.

Although each woman’s circumstance is different, these statistics are a positive step towards better attitudes around mothers, maternity plans, childcare and employment.

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