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Sole parents, public policy, employment and poverty

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Sole‐parent families across the OECD are changing. There are more employed soleparent families than before, their families are smaller than they were a generation ago, and their children on average are older. Nonetheless, poverty risks remain higher for this family type than for other households with children. Policies specifically targeted at sole parents can help, but outcomes in terms of economic participation and poverty depend on whether countries treat sole parents like any other parent and provide commensurate support to help them match their work and care commitments. Such a general and "active" policy stance is effective in reducing benefit dependency, even when financial incentives to work for low‐income sole parents may be weak. A considerable proportion of OECD children is eligible for child‐support payments. Child‐support policies can play an important role in improving the well‐being of sole‐parent families and in some countries they significantly reduce poverty risks for children in such families.

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: April 1, 2011


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