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New Study Reports On Health Implications Of Being A Single Mom

Posted by Siofan | Friday June 3, 20114 comments

We all know (either first hand or by watching family or friends) that being a single mom is a stressful juggling act beyond what is experienced by many married moms. So the findings of a study by Ohio State University associate professor of sociology Kristi Williams don't surprise much, but they are important when thinking about the health implications and the support systems in place for single parents.

Williams and her team found that women who had their first child outside of marriage described their health as poorer at age 40 than other moms. Theses findings are of particular concern when you look at stats in the US where 40 per cent of all births are to unmarried women. What kind of a public health crisis may this cause when these women reach middle age? (The latest findings we could find from Statistics Canada were from 1996 and reported that 22 per cent of families with children had lone parents; no facts could be found on the number of Canadian women who gave birth to their first child out of wedlock.)

The study also looked at variables like whether getting married later on helped with these negative health concerns (generally it did not). Across ethnic groups there were differences as well. Of those women who had their first child outside of marriage, Hispanic women did not have the same degree of negative health consequences at age 40 that Caucasian and African American women did. The researchers did not prove, but did suspect, that this is because when Hispanic women have a child out of marriage they are more likely than the other groups to be in a long-term cohabiting relationship similar to marriage, or have a closer-knit extended family offering support.

Researchers were not able to follow the health patterns over the long term of unwed mothers to determine what caused their health to deteriorate but they are fairly certain it is due to stress and the strains of lower income.

If you're curious to read more, the study will be published in the June 2011 issue of the American Sociological Review. Or you can read a comprehensive summary at EurekAlert.

Do you think their needs to be greater support offered to single moms and dads? Do you think they should try and promote marriage to decrease the number of women having to go it alone?
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4 Comments

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on June 06, 2011  Ali de Bold  STAFF said:

There absolutely needs to be more support for single mothers. In researching how maternity benefits work, I was shocked to find out in Canada how little you actually get. It's 80% of your income or a max of something like $462 a week, whichever is LESS. That works out to about $24K/year or less. Can you imagine paying rent and taking care of a child for that amount? In Toronto, that affords you a cardboard box down by the river. I can't imagine the stress that would put on a single parent.

That's just the financial stuff. If you don't have the support of a partner, at a minimum you need some close friends and family you can count on.

I have a huge amount of respect for anyone who can raise a child by themselves.

on June 03, 2011  TammyK  1,073 said:

I know it's hard for single moms to find time to socialize and connect with other people but they should really try because it will really benefit their health and stress.

on June 03, 2011  pawpcarn  159 said:

I know some single moms who do appear more stressed than those in marriages...However, whatever doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger right? :). It would be great if there was a program that can help out mothers in need of support.

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