Document Type



American families have changed dramatically in composition in recent decades. Increasing proportions of children are being raised in single parent households, reflecting both rising divorce rates, the growing percentage of births to unmarried women and adoption by single parents. As fewer children grow up in traditional families, there is increasing concern about the impact of alternative family structures on children's health and well-being. Many believe that there is a vital connection between family structure and youth well-being, with the nuclear family constituting the optimal structure for fostering "normal" development. Some say the change in the typical nuclear family is one of the most significant demographic and social transformations of recent history. Connections are now being made between single-family female -headed households and decreased well-being of children. These include lowered academic achievement, increased accidents, psychiatric disorders, emotional and behavioral problems, increased rates of suicide, drug and alcohol related problems and death. Lone parents are also found to have greater levels of psychological distress. It is a reasonable hypothesis that single-parent children are raised with generally poorer household resources, resulting in negative effects on their health. Also, that economic hardship is the cause of increased psychological distress in single parents. Many studies are purporting to control for socioeconomic status and still find a disparity between single- and two-parent families when it comes to child and parent health. The purpose of this paper was to review the current literature on the epidemiological relationship between single-parent households and decreased child and parent health.

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Journal Title

International Journal of Global Health





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©2003 International Journal of Global Health



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Public Health Commons



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