Child Indicators Research

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 127–147

Family Structure and Children’s Living Conditions. A Comparative Study of 24 Countries


DOI: 10.1007/s12187-009-9059-1

Cite this article as:
Låftman, S.B. Child Ind Res (2010) 3: 127. doi:10.1007/s12187-009-9059-1


This study uses large-scale cross-national data from 24 countries to describe the living conditions of children residing with a single mother as compared with children who live with two original parents. Three central areas are studied: children’s social support, health, and material resources. The data are derived from the international WHO study Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) of 2001/02. The survey includes nationally representative samples of school pupils of 11, 13, and 15 years of age in countries in Europe and North America and in Israel. After relevant selections, total n = 95,335. The general finding is that children in single-mother households have lower social support from parents, poorer health, and smaller material resources than children living with two original parents. The general tendency is rather similar across a large number of countries although more differences are found in some countries and fewer in others. There is no clear pattern regarding how the association with family type varies between countries, for example, according to the share of single-mother households, by welfare state regime, or in relation to single parents’ employment rates.


Children Family structure Single-mother household Cross-national 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Swedish Institute for Social ResearchStockholmSweden

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