Skip to main content

Lone mothers: A review

Abstract

This paper briefly reviews recent empirical studies on the economic behaviour of lone mothers concentrating on the duration of lone motherhood, on labour supply, and on the determinants of their welfare participation. We start out by sketching some stylised facts about lone-mother-families in various countries. With this background we give a guided tour through the empirical literature followed by a summary of the policy implications of the results presented.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Barry-Figueroa J, Melendez E (1993) The importance of family members in determining the labor supply of Puerto Rican, black, and white single mothers, Soc Sci Q 74:867–83

    Google Scholar 

  • Becker GS, Landes EM, Michael RT (1977) An economic analysis of marital instability, J Polit Econ 85:1141–1187

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Berger M, Black DA (1992) Child care subsidies, quality of care, and the labor supply of low-income, single mothers, Rev Econ Stat 74:635–42

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bernstam MS, Swan PL (1986)The state as the marriage partner of last resort: new findings on minimum wage, youth joblessness, welfare, and single motherhood in the United States, 1960–1980, Stanford Hoover Institution Working Paper in Economics: E-86-62, Stanford

  • Bingley P, Symons E, Walker I (1992) The labour supply of U. K. lone mothers: the effects of maintenance, and the welfare system, Institute for Fiscal Studies Working Paper: W92/19

  • Bingley P, Symons E, Walker I (1994) Child support, income support and lone mothers, Fiscal Studies 15:81–98

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Blank RM (1985) The impact of state economic differentials on household welfare and labor force behavior, J Publ Econ 28:25–58

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Blundell R, Duncan A, Meghir C (1992) Taxation in empirical labour supply models: lone mothers in the U.K, Econ J 102:265–278

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dilnot A, Duncan A (1992) Lone mothers, family credit and paid work, Fiscal Studies 13:1–21

    Google Scholar 

  • Ellwood DT, Bane MJ (1985) The impact of AFDC on family structure and living arrangements, in Ehrenberg RG (ed): Research in labor economics 7, Jai Press, Greenwich:137–207

    Google Scholar 

  • Ellwood DT, Summers LH (1986) Poverty in America: is welfare the answer to the problem? in Danziger SH and Weinberg DH (eds): Fighting poverty, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass:78–105

    Google Scholar 

  • Ermisch JF (1991) Lone parenthood: an economic analysis, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, New York and Melbourne

    Google Scholar 

  • Ermisch JF, Wright RE (1991a) Welfare benefits and lone parents’ employment in Great Britain, JHR 26:424–456

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ermisch JF, Wright RE (1991b) Employment dynamics among British single mothers, Oxford Bull Econ Stat 53:99–122

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ermisch JF, Wright RE (1995) Lone parenthood and employment: male-female differences in Great Britain, Labour Econ 2: 299–317

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fraker T, Maynard R (1987) Evaluating comparison group designs with employment related- programs, JHR 22:194–227

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Haurin D (1989) Women’s labor market reactions to family disruptions, Rev Econ Stat 71:54–61

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hausman JA (1980) The effects of wages, taxes, and fixed costs on women’s labor force participation, J Public Econ 14:161–194

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hunt, J (1995) The effect of unemployment compensation on unemployment duration in Germany, J Labour Econ 13: 88–120

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hutchens RM (1979) Welfare, remarriage and marital search, Am Econ Rev 69:369–379

    Google Scholar 

  • Jenkins SP (1992) Lone mothers’ employment and full-time work probabilities, Econ J: 310–320

  • Jenkins SP, Ermisch J, Wright RE (1990) ‘Adverse selection’ features of poverty amongst lone mothers, Fiscal Studies 11:77–90

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jensen P, Smith N (1990) Unemployment and marital dissolution, J Popul Econ 3:215–229

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Johnson W, Skinner J (1986) Labour supply and marital separation, Am Econ Rev 76:455–469

    Google Scholar 

  • Johnson W, Skinner J (1988) Accounting for changes in the labor supply of recently divorced women, JHR 23:455–469

    Google Scholar 

  • Kimmel J (1992) Child care and the employment behaviour of single and married mothers, Upjohn Institute, Staff Working Papers 92-14

  • Laisney F, Lechner M, Staat M, Wagenhals G (1993) Labour force participation of lone mothers in West Germany, ZEW Discussion Paper No 93-26, Mannheim

  • Lambert SF (1992) An examination of the relationship between sole parents and sole parent income support, Murdoch University, Economics Programme, Working Papers, No. 79, Murdoch, Western Australia

    Google Scholar 

  • Leibowitz A, Eisen M, Chow WK (1986) An economic model of teenage pregnancy decision making, Demography 23:67–77

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Meyer, BD (1995) Natural and quasi-experiments in economics, J Business and Econ Statistics 13: 151–161

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Moffitt R (1983) An economic model of welfare stigma, Amer Econ Rev 73:1023–1035

    Google Scholar 

  • Moffitt R (1986) Work incentives in the AFDC system: an analysis of the 1981 reforms, Am Econ Rev, Papers and Proceedings 76:219–223

    Google Scholar 

  • Nord S, Sheets RG (1990) The relationships of AFDC payments and employment structure on the labour force participation and underemployment rates of single mothers, Appl Econ 22:187–199

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • OECD (1993) Breadwinners or child rearers: the dilemma for lone mothers, OECD, Paris, Labour market and social policy -occasional papers - No. 12

    Google Scholar 

  • OECD (1994) Women and structural change — new perspectives, OECD, Paris

    Google Scholar 

  • Salkever, DS (1990) Child health and other determinants of single mothers’ labor supply and earnings, Research in Human Capital and Development 6:147–181

    Google Scholar 

  • Smith N, Walker I, Westergård-Nielsen NC (1993) The labour market behaviour of Danish lone mothers, in Henning B, Jensen P, Westergård-Nielsen N (eds) Panel data and labour market dynamics, North-Holland, Amsterdam, 285–310

  • Staat M, Wagenhais G (1994) The labour supply of German single mothers: a bivariate probit model, Vierteljahreshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung:113–118

  • Staat M, Wagenhals G (1996) Lone mothers: a review, Diskussionsbeiträge aus dem Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre (520), Universität Hohenheim, No. 118/96

  • Van der Klaauw W (1993) Female labor supply and marital status decisions: a life cycle model, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University, Faculty of Arts and Science, Department of Economics, Nr. 93-23

  • Walker, I. (1990) The effects of income support measures on the labour market behaviour of lone mothers, Fiscal Studies 11:55–75

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Winkler AC (1993) The living arrangements of single mothers with children, AJES 52:1–18

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wolfe BC, Hill SC (1993) The health, earnings capacity, and poverty of single-mother Families, in Papadimitriou D, Wolff E (eds) Poverty and prosperity in America at the close of the twentieth century, Macmillan, New York:89–120

    Google Scholar 

  • Wolfe BC, Hill SC (1995) The effect of health on the work effort of single mothers, JHR 30:43–61

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Matthias Staat or Gerhard Wagenhals.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Staat, M., Wagenhals, G. Lone mothers: A review. J Popul Econ 9, 131–140 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/PL00003833

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/PL00003833

JEL classification

  • H53
  • I38
  • J22

Key words

  • Lone parents
  • social policy
  • poverty trap