Lone-parent families

There has been a notable increase in the number of lone-parent families with children—from 289,000 in 1976 to 698,000 in 2014. Lone-parent families accounted for 20% of families with children aged less than 16, up from 9% in 1976. Of note, lone mothers accounted for 81% of lone-parent families in 2014 (compared with 86% in 1976).Note 1

The number of both lone-father and lone-mother families increased during the period. However, most of the growth in the number of lone-mother families occurred in the first half of the period, i.e., from 1976 to 1994 (Chart A.1). In contrast, the number of lone-father families was relatively stable during the first half of the period, but increased during the second half (after 1990).

Chart A.1 Number of lone-mother and lone-father families with at least one child under 16, 1976 to 2014

Description for chart A.1

Employed lone mothers were older, had higher levels of education and were less likely to have younger children than stay-at-home lone mothers. Among stay-at-home lone mothers, 8% had a university degree, while this was the case of 25% of employed lone mothers (Table A.1). These proportions, however, were lower than for mothers in couples, not only among those who were employed (about 4 in 10 women in this category had a university degree), but also among those who were staying home (3 in 10).

Table A.1
Characteristics of lone mothers and lone fathers with at least one child under 16, by employment status, 2014
Table summary
This table displays the results of Characteristics of lone mothers and lone fathers with at least one child under 16 Lone mother, Lone father, Employed and Stay-at-home, calculated using average and percentage units of measure (appearing as column headers).
  Lone mother Lone father
Employed Stay-at-home Employed Stay-at-home
average
Average age 38.5 34.7 41.8 42.2
Average number of children under 16 1.5 1.9 1.5 1.6
  percentage
More than two children under 16 8.3 23.5 7.4 Note F: too unreliable to be published
At least one child under 5 at home 25.1 51.9 17.5 24.3
All children aged 5 to 15 74.9 48.1 82.5 75.7
Education  
Less than high school 6.5 27.3 9.3 Note F: too unreliable to be published
High school diploma 22.1 34.5 23.8 Note F: too unreliable to be published
College/trades diploma or certificate 46.9 30.4 40.8 Note F: too unreliable to be published
University degree 24.5 7.8 26.1 Note F: too unreliable to be published
Employed  
Full time 78.3 Note ...: not applicable 93.7 Note ...: not applicable
Part time 21.7 Note ...: not applicable 6.3 Note ...: not applicable
OccupationNote for table A.1 1  
Management 5.6 Note F: too unreliable to be published 11.1 Note F: too unreliable to be published
Business, finance and administration 24.4 Note F: too unreliable to be published 8.7 Note F: too unreliable to be published
Natural and applied sciences 3.2 Note F: too unreliable to be published 13.3 Note F: too unreliable to be published
Health 12.6 Note F: too unreliable to be published Note F: too unreliable to be published Note F: too unreliable to be published
Social science, education, government service and religion 16.5 Note F: too unreliable to be published 5.1 Note F: too unreliable to be published
Art, culture, recreation and sport 3.1 Note F: too unreliable to be published Note F: too unreliable to be published Note F: too unreliable to be published
Sales and service 27.6 Note F: too unreliable to be published 17.9 Note F: too unreliable to be published
Trades, transport and equipment operators 3.1 Note F: too unreliable to be published 27.2 Note F: too unreliable to be published
Primary industry 0.7 Note F: too unreliable to be published 4.6 Note F: too unreliable to be published
Processing, manufacturing and utilities 3.3 Note F: too unreliable to be published 7.0 Note F: too unreliable to be published
SectorNote for table A.1 1  
Public 28.4 Note F: too unreliable to be published 18.2 Note F: too unreliable to be published
Private 60.9 Note F: too unreliable to be published 63.3 Note F: too unreliable to be published
Self-employed 10.7 Note F: too unreliable to be published 18.5 Note F: too unreliable to be published
  average
Average usual weekly hoursNote for table A.1 1 34.8 Note ...: not applicable 40.1 Note ...: not applicable
Average hourly earnings ($)Note for table A.1 1 23.14 Note ...: not applicable 29.48 Note ...: not applicable
Average weekly earnings ($)Note for table A.1 1 809.32 Note ...: not applicable 1,169.39 Note ...: not applicable

Both lone mothers and lone fathers were less likely to be employed than those who were in a couple. In 2014, 69% of lone mothers and 82% of lone fathers were working. The comparable rates for their couple counterparts were 75% and 90%. However, as was the case for females in couple families, lone mothers registered significant gains in employment over the period as their employment rate moved up from 48% in 1976 to 69% in 2014 (while remaining stable among lone fathers). Previous research indicated that recent gains in employment and earnings of Canadian lone mothers aged 40 and over were a result of demographic effects whereby the better-educated baby boom generation replaced earlier cohorts.Note 2

Lone mothers were more likely to work in sales and service occupations than females in couple families. Similarly, lone fathers were more likely to be working in occupations that require relatively lower levels of education.

Notes

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