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Poverty and Social Exclusion in Europe

Matt Barnes, Christopher Heady, Sue Middleton, Jane Millar, Fotis Papadopoulos, Graham Room and Panos Tsakloglou

There are estimated to be almost 60 million people living in poverty throughout the European Union. This bleak statistic underlines the value of this important book which explores the nature and extent of poverty and social exclusion in six European countries, namely: Austria, Germany, Greece, Norway, Portugal and the UK. The book focuses on four ‘life course’ groups who might be considered particularly at risk: young adults, lone parents, the sick and disabled, and the retired.
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Chapter 4: Lone Parenthood

Jane Millar


* Jane Millar The rise in lone parenthood is probably one of the most visible outcomes of changing patterns of family formation and dissolution in western countries and such families have increasingly become the subject of political, policy and research interest at both national and supra-national level. Lone parenthood is a family status, describing a particular family structure – one parent living with his or her children and without a partner – and much attention has been focused on how the situation of lone-parent families compares with that of two-parent families. This research has clearly shown the very high risk of income poverty faced by lone parents in many countries and the importance of employment and family benefits in reducing these poverty risks (for example Hobson, 1994; Bradshaw et al., 1996; Christopher et al., 2001). Lone parents are least likely to be poor in countries where their employment rates are high and where family benefits and transfers are most generous, and vice versa (Millar, 1996; Kilkey and Bradshaw, 1999). However, lone parenthood is much more than just a family status. Spending time as a lone parent is also part of the wider life course of partnership and parenthood, in which a spell living as a lone parent is an increasingly common experience for many people. Examining lone parenthood as a life-course transition focuses attention on the different ways in which people become lone parents and the impact this has on their current situation. Of course, this is not a life-course...

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