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Single-Father Households Are On the Rise

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More American households are led by single fathers, according to a Pew Research Center report released this month.

Single fathers led 8 percent of households with children in 2011—that's more than 2.6 million compared to just 1 percent or less than 300,000 in 1960. Single dads now make up nearly one quarter of the nation's single parents. Overall, two married parents head 67 percent of American households with children. In 1960, an overwhelming majority of family households had two married parents—92 percent.

The report, which is an analysis of Decennial Census and American Community Survey data, found significant differences between single mothers and single fathers. Single dads have higher incomes than single moms, and only 24 percent are living at or below the poverty line. Almost half of single mothers, or 43 percent, are poor.

Single fathers also look different than their female counterparts, writes Gretchen Livingston, the report's author. They are older and less educated than single mothers, and they are more likely to be white.

The report attributes the rise in single-father households to high divorce rates in the U.S. and a "marked increase in the share of non-marital births." It also notes that legal changes have led fathers to gain more custody rights when relationships are severed.

Additionally, the evolving role of a father may be a key contributor. Pew Research Center survey results show that the public "believes that a father's greatest role is to provide values to his children, followed by emotional support, discipline, and income support."

Read the Pew Research Center's report here.

See our full coverage of parent empowerment issues.

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