The financial status of single mothers is often related to poverty but it is not as simple as it seems. There is no reason to believe that single mothers will always have debt and have to suffer in silence having no one to support or ask for help. The rising trend and number of single mothers have raised concerns of government of different countries to announce debt relief programs and different others that will provide financial assistance to them in running their household and raise their children.
However, in almost all countries all over the world, family structure and poverty are often intertwined and is believed that nearly a third of all households headed by a single mom live in or below the poverty line. On the other hand, study reveals that it is only about six percent of families headed by married couples are officially ranked as poor. Most amazingly it is found that an about 45 percent of children are leading life in poverty who are without a father.
According to recent research, it is also found that intergenerational income mobility in the metropolitan areas is very low where there are a large number of single mothers. This finding has resulted in a fierce public debate over the meaning of the relationship of single mothers with poverty and debt.
The survey reports also say that cities that have a large number of single mother households tend to have a very slow and low upward mobility. In some areas it even has a clear declining trend as the number of single mothers rises. The statistical power and link of this variable between family structure and income inequality or mobility is stunning and even alarming at times.
The controversy in the issue
However, researchers have proceeded with extreme caution to establish this link and has emphasized on all possible factors to arrive at such a bold-faced finding. Still this happens to be the most controversial issues across the globe. The reasons are:
These issues are substantiated by several theoretical as well as practical examples by the critics. They argue that cities that usually have a large number of mothers who are alone and single have a less upward mobility. It is even seen for those families where both the parents are in the home. That means the channel is unlikely to have a direct effect or link due to the single mothers on inequality. It also nullifies the common misconception that single mothers always incur multiple debts and need to go through different debt settlement reviews and consult credit counselors to come out of debt but all in vain.
Difficult to make conclusion
No matter how tempting it may look to deduce from the tidy pattern of inequality so depicted by the researchers, it does not scientifically explain the relation. It does not even explain the fact that breakdown of marriages will always cause poverty eventually. Therefore, it is very difficult to perpetuate inequality with single mothers.
Therefore, the belief that frayed social values results in poverty suggests just the opposite. It typically argues against all of the wrong policy prescriptions. According to this argument, more emphasis is given on incentivizing marriage, teaching family values and convincing the poor people to get married to come out of poverty.
Argument for more economic analysis
Conservatives say that there is an immediate requirement of more economic analysis of the ‘causal chain’ regarding inequality in income and status of single mothers. In the meantime, they look for better explanation considering the explanations that are already available. At the very least, such efforts results in further scrutiny of the underlying conditions that may create a low social mobility for the single mothers.
They also argue that such findings when taken at face value will make people believe easily that the culture of a specific community is the primary issue and causation of such inequality. This inevitably results in blaming the single mothers due to their prevalence in that community. People will even cite that the absence of fathers is the primary cause for children being poor and are deprived of the opportunities to move up in their career in future within the specific community.
Therefore, it is high time to come out of the common misbeliefs and blaming single mothers in the neighborhood for high rates of unemployment, poverty, and incarceration having a huge impact in the economy and debt accumulation. It is unwise and even derogatory to think that a woman will get married only for economic security and have any values for the institution.