Wider income gap between single mothers and mothers with partners

14/01/2010 15:00

The disposable income of single mothers is considerably lower than that of cohabiting or married mothers. The average disposable income of single mothers was 15 thousand euro in 2008, as against nearly 25 thousand euro for mothers living with partners. The gap has widened since 2003.

Income gap wider

The average standardised disposable income of single mothers in 2003 was 68 percent of that of cohabiting or married mothers, as opposed to 62 percent in 2008. The predominant reason is that the participation rate on the labour market of single mothers, which is lower anyway, has grown more slowly than the participation rate of cohabiting or married mothers. 

Differences in income from labour reduced

The share of women working on a full-time basis has dropped faster among single mothers than among their cohabiting or married counterparts. On average, mothers living with partners also work longer hours each week than single mothers.

These developments have rapidly reduced the gap in income from labour between mothers living with and without partners. In 2003, the average single mother earned 116 percent of the income of a cohabiting or married mother. In 2008, the share had dropped to 101 percent.

Single mothers earn higher incomes from labour because those who participate on the labour market on average work longer hours than working mothers with partners.

Incomes single mothers with at least one underage child living at home

Incomes single mothers with at least one underage child living at home

Marion van den Brakel and Reinder Lok