Partner Absence Investigated as Financial Penalty for Motherhood

A recent longitudinal study (meaning it was conducted over several years) sought to determine the economic factors hurting single mothers. While it is often assumed that partner absence plays the most significant role in financially hurting single-parent families, the data revealed that many of the economic barriers found in motherhood would exist regardless of partner absence. Having a working partner helps absorb the costs related to having and caring for a new baby. While traditional studies have sought to discuss the matter of partner absence, this study wanted to focus on the struggles that single mothers face when raising children. The study analyzed 25 years' worth of income data from disparate single mothers.

While partner absence remains a significant barrier to raising a child, financial penalties related to motherhood and labor market penalties also have a significant role.

Transition to Motherhood versus Lack of an Earning Partner

The study does not suggest that the lack of an earning partner is a small matter. It is certainly not. What the study suggests is that there are still issues relating to the treatment of women with children in the workforce. Mothers remain more likely to take time off after having a child, reduce their hours, or miss out on opportunities for promotion. Such penalties, the researcher notes, tend to make women much more vulnerable during a separation or divorce.

But what about mothers who are financially well off? According to the study, these were precisely the mothers that saw the greatest losses in income after a recent divorce. In other words, earning more than your state’s median income was not a predictor of financial strife after childbirth. Even married women who are financially well off incur expenses and job losses following childbirth. Those losses are compounded after a separation or divorce.

The study indicates that there are two important factors to consider. The first is the workforce disadvantage of having less time to dedicate to your career path and second, the added economic disadvantage of raising children. While not having a partner around compounds the issue, the issues would still be there even with a partner present.

Hence, according to the study, the issue is systemic.

Single Mothers More Likely to Live in Poverty

Women tend to earn less than men on average. Single mothers tend to earn about two-thirds of what single fathers bring in. The study controlled for variables such as occupation, number of hours worked, education, and social capital. It found that single mothers were much more likely to live in poverty than single fathers. There are currently about ten times as many single mothers living in poverty as there are single fathers.

Talk to a Cook County Divorce Attorney Today

If you need representation for a divorce or child support matter in Cook County, Glasgow & Olsson is here to help. When you need an attorney, experience matters. Contact us today to learn how our experience can get you the results you deserve.

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