A staggering number of African-American children are raised in single parent homes, compared to the rest of America, and the rest of the world. A study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that 25.8 percent of American children are raised by a single parent, a number high above the 14.9 percent average seen in the other 26 countries surveyed. Among African-Americans the rate nearly tripled, with 72 percent of black children relying on a single parent.
“The in-work poverty is higher in the U.S. than other OECD countries, because at the bottom end of the labor market, earnings are very low,” said Willem Adema, a senior economist in the group’s social policy division. “For parents, the risk is higher because they have to make expenditures on childcare costs.”
No doubt the prevalence of divorce has introduced single-parenthood as common place in the U.S., but the figures are disproportionally high for African-Americans. Reasons for the disparity among blacks could stem from any number of reasons, ranging from the American justice system, to pregnancy among young unmarried couples. In addition to the number of black single parents, almost three in four black children are born outside of marriage. The reality is that recognizing or even curbing the trend does not work to the benefit of young single mothers already raising children.
American single mothers find themselves challenged by high living costs, even though the U.S. government provides more child welfare spending than other countries. Employment is also more common for U.S. single parents, with 35.8% earning an income compared to 21.3 percent internationally, but single mother families still suffer from a poverty rate of 63 percent.
The plight of the working mother is compounded with a lack of childcare, which can affect childhood development. University of Texas law professor Lino Graglia went so far as to link minority underachievement on standardized tests to single parent households, characterizing the parents as “usually female, uneducated and without a lot of money.”
Though Graglia’s statements are certainly not based in fact, the economic and social trends attributed to single-parenthood are should be discomforting to African-Americans. It may be too late for a return to the traditional family for Americans, but considering the weight of single parent child rearing can never be understated.