Annually, more than 6 thousand underage children lose one or both parents

07/08/2013 15:00

By the end of 2011, there were 34 thousand underage children who had lost one of their parents and 330 who had lost both parents. Each year, more than 6 thousand underage children are (semi-)orphaned. Children who have lost their mothers more often live in step families, foster families or on their own than children who have lost their fathers.

Majority lose father and are semi-orphaned in their teens

By the end of 2011, there were 3 million underage children living in the Netherlands. An average of 6.4 thousand underage children lost one or both parents each year in the period 1995-2011. The number fell marginally in this period. Approximately one in five children lose one or both parents before they reach the age of 6. Half are (semi-)orphaned in their teens, i.e. when aged between 12 and 18. Two in every three of these underage children lose their fathers.

Average age at loss (first) parent, 1995-2011

Average age at loss (first) parent, 1995-2011

Children relatively often live in foster families or on their own after loss of their mothers

Underage semi-orphans usually live with the surviving parent, especially when the other parent has died recently. If the father has died , 78 percent were living with the single mother at the end of 2011 and 18 percent with the mother and her new partner. If the mother has died, 64 percent were living with the single father and 22 percent with the father and his new partner. After their mother died, 14 percent of underage semi-orphans were living in foster families or on their own.

Housing conditions underage children, end of 2011

Housing conditions underage children, end of 2011

Different pattern in families with non-western background

If one of the parent in a family with a non-western background dies, the pattern is slightly different. After death of the father, a relatively high proportion (88 percent) of non-western semi-orphans continue to live with their mothers. Non-western women with children rarely get a new partner. As a result, semi-orphans more often stay at home with their mothers.
Widowed non-western fathers less often look after their children alone. More than a quarter of non-western underage children whose mothers have died live in foster families or on their own. Presumably, non-western semi-orphans are often being looked after by acquaintances, e.g. grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts.

Housing conditions underage children after loss of one of the parents, end of 2011

Housing conditions underage children after loss of one of the parents, end of 2011

Ruben van Gaalen