More and Poorer Single-parent Families in France According to Statistics


On September 13th, the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) reported that single-parent families in France had greatly increased between 2011 and 2020.  Now accounting for one in every four families, these families are more affected by poverty than others, and the children are living with the mother in 82% of the cases.

Out of a total of 8 million families examined in 2020, the statistics show there are 2 million so-called “single-parent” families where children live with only one parent. This accounts for 24.7% of all French families (or 23.8% in metropolitan France). A total of 66.3% are traditional families, while 9% are blended families.

When examining the housing conditions of these families the study revealed strong disparities: traditional families were more likely to own their home (66%), but the figure drops to 29% for single-parent families. Only 15.8% of traditional families live in social housing units, compared to 37% for single-parent families.

The statistics demonstrated that 24% of children in single-parent families live in “overcrowded housing conditions” where at least one extra room is needed, compared to 14 % of all minor children. According to the study, “the greater overcrowding observed in single-parent families may be partly explained by the fact that they often live in large cities or in the suburbs where housing is smaller.”[Algavaetal., 2020].

Finally, minor children living in single-parent families are twice more likely to be affected by poverty. In 2018, 41% of them had incomes below the poverty line (calculated according to the median standard of living of the population), compared to 21% of all children. “In one third of single-parent families, the parent with whom they live most of the time does not have a job. This makes their situation more precarious since the statistics demonstrate that 77% of these children are poor, compared to 23% when the parent is employed. »

Children who live with their father account for 18% of single-parent families. Compared to mothers, the single-parent families headed by fathers are less likely to be affected by poverty, more likely to own their home, to be employed and to hold an executive job position.

Faced with these statistics, the issue of how to best prevent poverty in children from single-parent families needs to be addressed. According to Julien Damon, associate professor at Sciences Po, the increasing number of these families is largely due to the break-up of couples. (Le Figaro, 14/09/2021). He has suggested, as in other countries, for the government to develop marriage counselling policies to provide support to couples to avoid seperating.

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