Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Does material disadvantage explain the increased risk of adverse health, educational, and behavioural outcomes among children in lone parent households in Britain? : a cross sectional study

By Nick Spencer


Objective: To test the hypothesis that material disadvantage explains the increased risk among children and young people of adverse health, educational, and behavioural problems associated with living in lone parent households in Britain\ud \ud Study design: Secondary analysis of a cross sectional survey of a representative sample of British households with children and youth\ud \ud Main outcomes: Parent reported fair/poor health, longstanding illness and disability, statement of special educational needs, suspension and/or expulsion from school, and in trouble with the police.\ud \ud Participants: Data were available on 15 636 (8049 boys and 7587 girls) aged 0-18 years in 8541 households in the third sweep (2001) of the British government's families and children study\ud \ud Results: Lone parenthood was associated with increased risk of health and educational problems, and antisocial behaviour among boys and girls in a logistic regression model adjusting for child's age alone. Adding age of main carer, number of dependent children, and child's rank in the household made little difference to the associations. Addition of housing tenure, household hardship index, and an interaction term for lone parenthood and hardship eliminated the relation with lone parenthood for all outcomes except parent reported health among girls. Similar results were obtained for households headed by lone parents for at least a year. An interaction effect of lone parenthood with hardship for parent reported health and statement of special educational needs was noted.\ud \ud Conclusion: Adverse effects of lone parenthood on health, education, and antisocial behaviour were apparently explained by material disadvantage in this cross sectional sample of British households with children and youth.\u

Topics: HQ, RA
Publisher: BMJ Group
Year: 2005
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. 9 year old children in relation to family structure. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatr 1999;8(suppl 4):IV29–40.
  2. Adolescents from one parent, stepparent and intact families: emotional problems and suicide attempts. doi
  3. Child well-being in single-mother families. doi
  4. Children’s adjustment and prosocial behaviour in step-, single- parent and non-stepfamily settings: findings from a community study. ALSPAC study team. Avon longitudinal study of pregnancy and childhood. doi
  5. (2001). Children’s emotional and behavioural well-being and the family environment: findings from the health survey for England. Soc Sci Med doi
  6. Confounding in epidemiological studies: why ‘‘independent effects’’ may not be all they seem. doi
  7. (1997). Consequences of living in poverty for young children’s cognitive and verbal ability and early school achievement. In:
  8. (1997). Consequences of young mothers’ marital histories for children’s cognitive development. doi
  9. (1999). Diverse family living situations and child development: a multi-level analysis comparing longitudinal evidence from Britain and the United States. doi
  10. Does financial hardship account for elevated psychological distress in lone mothers? Soc Sci Med doi
  11. (1993). Emotional and behavioural problems experienced by children living in single-parent families: a pilot study. doi
  12. (2003). Families and children 2001: living standards and the children. Research report 190. London: Corporate Document Services on behalf of Department for Work and Pensions,
  13. (2003). Family change 1999–2001, research report 180. London: Department for Work and Pensions,
  14. (1983). Family type and accidents in preschool children. doi
  15. (1984). Health care needs of the children of single mothers in a Perth suburb. doi
  16. (2000). Mental health of children and adolescents in Great Britain. London: The Stationery Office, doi
  17. (1996). Modeling intergenerational transmission in longitudinal cohorts using multilevel methods. Bulletin de Methodologie Sociologique
  18. Morbidity and healthcare utilisation of children in households with one adult: comparative observational study. doi
  19. One-parent families and their dependent children
  20. Parental background, social disadvantage, public ‘‘care’’, and psychological problems in adolescence and adulthood. doi
  21. (2003). Psychological distress and socioeconomic status in single mothers and their children in a German city. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol doi
  22. severe morbidity, and injury in children living with single parents in Sweden: a populationbased study. doi
  23. Social policies and the pathways to inequalities in health: comparative analysis of lone mothers doi
  24. The influence of family type on children’s behaviour and development at five years. doi
  25. The self-reported health status of lone parents. doi
  26. (2001). The well-being of youngters coming from six different family types. Patient Educat Counselling doi
  27. Types of families, living conditions, functioning family systems and social maladjustment during latency and adolescence in underprivileged milieus (French). Sante
  28. What puts children of lone parents at a health disadvantage? Lancet 2003;361:271. Lone parent households and material disadvantage 157 doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.