The Progress of Nations: The Industrial World

Half of solo mothers in poverty in Australia, Canada and US

In all industrialized nations for which 1990s information is available, children in solo-mother families are at greater risk of poverty.

In Australia, Canada and the United States, over 50% of children in solo-mother families are living below the Luxembourg Income Study poverty line. In Australia, Norway and the US, such children account for over half the children in poverty.

In other countries, government policies mitigate the effects. Denmark, Finland, and Sweden also have a high percentage of children in solo-mother families, yet fewer than 10% live below the poverty line.

Solo poverty

% of children living below the poverty line, 1990-1992

Children in two-
parent family
Children in solo
mother family
Sweden 2.25.2
Denmark 2.57.3
Finland 1.97.5
Belgium 3.210.0
Italy 9.513.9
Norway 1.918.4
Netherlands 3.139.5
Canada 7.450.2
Australia 7.756.2
United States 11.159.5

SOURCE Luxembourg Income Study, Working Paper No. 127. The poverty line is defined as 50% of national median income after taxes and transfers.

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