Single-parent households, child poverty high in the U.S.

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 13 2012 1:16 p.m. MST

Our take: More than 25 percent of children in the United States live in single-parent households, according to a recent article by Karen Kornbluh on The Atlantic. Related data shows that the U.S. is among the top three countries with the highest rates of child poverty. Kornbluh, an ambassador to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, uses this information to call for policy reforms that will support changing family structures and combat the increased likelihood of poverty among single-parent households. However, Kornbluh does not address an important aspect of the equation: the family structure itself. Recent findings from the Institute for American Values and the National Marriage Project point to 30 reasons marriage matters more than ever, with financial stability being among those.

As I wrote in The Atlantic in 2003, the traditional family — one breadwinner and one homemaker — has been replaced by the "juggler family" with either two working parents or a single parent who works. Nine years later, the nation no longer clings quite so tightly to the ideal of the 1950s family, but policies and practices lag behind. The US is the only OECD country without paid maternity leave; a parent's job isn't protected if he or she takes a day off to care for a sick child; and the US still lacks affordable, high-quality child care. This could all change in Obama's second term: He has said he's committed to working with states on paid family leave, supports legislation to provide paid sick days, and has invested in grants to states raise standards in their early learning programs while also supporting expansion of he Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.

Read more about single-parent households and poverty on The Atlantic.

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