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The Effects of a Single Parent Family on Society

Updated April 17, 2017

A single-parent family occurs when a parent cares for one or more children without the physical assistance of the other parent in the home. It can be brought about by divorce, adoption, death or abandonment by biological parents.

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Single-parent families are at a higher risk of poverty than couple families. In 2002, many single-parent families earned less than £19,500 per year compared to two-parent families, which earned more than £48,750 per year, according to HealthOfChildren.com.


Single-parent families have higher rates of adoption than two-parent families. In 1970, only 0.5 to four per cent of adoptive parents were single. In the 1980s, this rate increased from eight to 34 per cent, according to HealthOfChildren.com.

Sexual Activity

Sexual activity is higher in adolescents from single-parent families than from two- parent families. In a study of 700 adolescents, those from single-parent families have been found to engage in greater and earlier sexual activity.

Psychiatric Problems

Children from single-parent families have greater psychiatric problems than those in two-parent families. In 1988, a study of preschool children admitted to New Orleans hospitals as psychiatric patients over a 34-month period found that nearly 80 per cent came from fatherless homes, according to Photius.com.


Children from single-parent families have lower education attainments than children from two-parent families. Twelve per cent of U.S. children from single-parent families had at least a bachelor's degree, compared to 30 per cent from children living in two-parent family, according to PobRonson.com.

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