‘A National Tragedy’ – U.S. Leads World in Single-Parent Homes, Pew Finds

Michael Foust | ChristianHeadlines.com Contributor | Tuesday, December 17, 2019
‘A National Tragedy’ – U.S. Leads World in Single-Parent Homes, Pew Finds

‘A National Tragedy’ – U.S. Leads World in Single-Parent Homes, Pew Finds


A new study showing the United States has the world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households is being called a “national tragedy” by one sociologist.

The Pew Research Center study of 130 countries and territories shows that 23 percent of U.S. children under the age of 18 live with one parent and no other adults – more than three times the global average of 7 percent.

By comparison, 3 percent of children in China, 4 percent in Nigeria, 5 percent in India and 15 percent in Canada live in single-parent households, according to the Pew study.

Glenn T. Stanton, director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, called the data “disturbing.” Sadly, he said, it is largely “those in the lower half of the socio-economic scale that live in single-parent homes” and have “babies outside of wedlock.”

“These numbers are growing dramatically for the high school educated and declining for those with college and advanced degrees,” Stanton told Christian Headlines. “This means that the kinds of families they are forming will serve to trap them in the underclass, making it nearly impossible to climb to higher social rungs. This has long been a national tragedy.”

Children in European countries are generally more likely to live in single-parent homes than those in Asia, but still less likely than children in the U.S. The percentages for the United Kingdom (21 percent), France (16 percent) and Germany (12 percent) are all lower than the U.S.

Meanwhile, children in the United States also are less likely to live with extended family members. Only 8 percent of children in the U.S. live with relatives such as aunts and uncles or grandparents, compared to 38 percent of children around the world who do so.

Stanton noted that data from the 2019 World Family Map varies slightly from the Pew data but generally shows the same pattern. In that report, 31 percent of U.S. homes are single-parent households. 

Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.

Photo courtesy: Juliane Liebermann/Unsplash


Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity TodayThe Christian PostThe Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.