FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 31, 2018
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Single Mothers with College Degrees Much Less Likely to Live in Poverty
Increasing degree attainment among single mothers would speed progress toward family economic security
Washington, DC—Just 13 percent of single mothers who have a bachelor’s degree lived in poverty in 2016, compared with 41 percent of single mothers with a high school diploma, according to new analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR).
Over the past decade, the share of single mothers living in poverty has been roughly twice as high as that for all families. IWPR estimates that if one quarter of single mothers with only a high school diploma or some college in 2016 had earned a college degree, poverty among all single mothers would have declined by eight percent—more than three times the rate of poverty reduction seen over the last decade.
Among single mothers over the age of 25, just one in four have a college degree, with wide disparities by race and ethnicity. In 2016, 35 percent of Asian and 30 percent of White single mothers had an AA or BA, about twice the share of Hispanic single mothers (15 percent). More than one in five Black and Native American single mothers had a college degree (22 percent).
IWPR Senior Research Associate Lindsey Reichlin Cruse, an author of the analysis, commented on the findings:
“This analysis suggests that helping even a fraction of single mothers earn college degrees will have important economic benefits. Investing in the educational attainment of single mothers—through supports such as affordable child care, holistic case management, and targeted financial aid—would strengthen their ability to establish long-run family economic security.”
The quick figure, “Single Mothers with College Degrees Much Less Likely to Live in Poverty,” was supported by by the Jewish Foundation for Education of Women, with additional support from the ECMC Foundation, as a part of a larger project on the costs and benefits of investing in single mothers’ educational attainment.
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts and communicates research to inspire public dialogue, shape policy, and improve the lives and opportunities of women of diverse backgrounds, circumstances, and experiences. IWPR also works in affiliation with the Program on Gender Analysis in Economics at American University.