More than 400 thousand single parents

There were just over 410 thousand single parents in the Netherlands in 2002, 40 thousand more than in 1997. They include 65 thousand single fathers and 345 thousand single mothers. Statistics Netherlands expects the number to rise further to more than 500 thousand single parent families in 2020. Divorce is the main reason for the increase.

Single parents, 1995- 2020

Most single parents are mothers

Nearly 14 percent of children living at home lived with one parent in 2002. In 2020 this percentage will be slightly higher, at 16 percent.

Eighty percent of children stay with their mother after a divorce; 15 percent live with their father and the remaining 5 percent live with their father and mother alternately, with a foster family or in a home.

Many non-western foreigners

The 345 thousand single mothers include 77 thousand single mothers of non-western descent. This number if rising rapidly. The number of single mothers has rose by about 30 thousand between 1997 and 2002, 20 thousand of them are non-western. The number of Dutch native single mothers has risen by 8 thousand since 1997.

Single mothers by ethnic group

Strong rise in single foreign mothers

The group of non-western foreign single mothers in the Netherlands includes 28 thousand mothers from Suriname, 12 thousand from the Netherlands Antilles, 9 thousand from Turkey and 7 thousand from Morocco.

Between 1997 and 2002 the number of single mothers from the Netherlands Antilles rose most strongly, by 4 thousand. For single mothers from Turkey, Morocco and Suriname the increase was around 2.5 thousand.

Foreigners: higher risk of divorce

The high percentage of single mothers among (non-western) foreigners is partly caused by the higher risk of divorce for these groups. Half of native Dutch single mothers are divorced, on quarter are widows, and one quarter are unmarried.

About half of Turkish and Moroccan single mothers are divorced too, one quarter are unmarried or widowed, and a quarter are married. The high percentage of married Turkish and Moroccan single mothers is caused by the fact that the husband is still in the country of origin. Many women are formally married in anticipation of the divorce.

Non-western single mothers

Surinamese women often unmarried

Half of Surinamese and two-thirds of Antillean single mothers have never been married. These relatively high rates are an effect of the traditions in Suriname and the Antilles, where many women live with a partner without marrying and relatively often have children and raise them without a steady partner.

Andries de Jong