The Scientific Study of People Who Are Single:
An Annotated Bibliography

Bella M. DePaulo
Chair, Academic Advisory Board of the Spectrum Institute
Research and Policy Division of the
American Association for Single People (AASP)

January 2, 2004


3. Parents, Children, and Adults Who Are Not Parents  

Single Parents and Their Children

Much of the research on single parenting has focused on the implications for the children. Is family structure (e.g., whether there are two parents or one) an important predictor of outcomes such as childrenís health, well-being, educational achievement, civic behavior, or their own likelihood of becoming a single parent? Or is the quality of the parenting, and the parent-child relationship, just as important or even more important than the number of parents? What is the role of economic circumstances in shaping the life courses of single parents and their children? How important is the way in which the parents became single parentsĖi.e., did they become a parent before marrying or did they become a single parent as a consequence of divorce or the death of a spouse? This factor, along with the race and age of the parent, are all linked to different degrees of stigma. Does stigma, in turn, play a role in the life experiences of the single parents and their children? (See also the section on Prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination.) How many single parents really are raising their children alone and how many are in extended families or have close ties to other adults who care about their children? In how many two-parent families is just one parent doing the work of raising the children?

Arendell, T. (2000). Conceiving and investigating motherhood: The decadeís scholarship. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 1192-1207.

Bennett, T., Braveman, P., Egerter, S., & Kiely, J. L. (1994). Maternal marital status as a risk factor for infant mortality. Family Planning Perspectives, 26, 252-271.

Berns, J. (1982). Denial of pregnancy in single women. Health and Social Work, 7, 314-319.

Blum, L. M., & Deussen, T. (1996). Negotiating independent motherhood: Working-class African American women talk about marriage and motherhood. Gender and Society, 10, 199-211.

Bock, J. D. (2000). Doing the right thing? Single mothers by choice and the struggle for legitimacy. Gender and Society, 14, 62-86.

Boris, E. (1999). When work is slavery. In Mink, G. (Ed.), Whose Welfare? (pp. 36-55). Cornell.

Caspi, A., Wright, B. R. E., Moffitt, T. E., & Silva, P. (1998). Early failure in the labor market: Childhood and adolescent predictors of unemployment in the transition to adulthood. American Sociological Review, 63, 424-451. (Family conflict and structure as predictors of unemployment.)

Chilman, C. S. (1988). Never-married, single, adolescent parents. In C. S. Chilman, E. W. Nunnally, & F. M. Cox (Eds.), Families in Trouble Series: Vol. 5. Variant Family Forms (pp.17-38). London: Sage Publications.

Coontz, S., & Folbre, N. (2002). Marriage, poverty, and public policy. The American Prospect. Originally prepared for the Fifth Annual Council on Contemporary Families Conference, April 26-28.

Demo, D. H., & Acock, A. C. (1996). Singlehood, marriage, and remarriage: The effects of family structure and family relationships on mothersí well-being. Journal of Family Issues, 17, 388-407.

Demo, D. H., & Cox, M. J. (2000). Families with children: A review of research in the 1990s. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 876-895.

Duncan, G. J., Yeung, W., Brooks-Gunn, J., & Smith, J. R. (1998). How much does childhood poverty affect the life chances of children? American Sociological Review, 63, 406-423.

Edin, K. (2000). Few good men: Why poor women donít remarry. The American Prospect, 11.

Folbre, N. (2001). Leave no child behind? The American Prospect, 12, January 1.

Gordon, J. B. (1981). Singe parents: Personal struggles and social issues. In P. J. Stein (Ed.), Single Life: Unmarried Adults in Social Context (pp. 278-288). New York: St. Martinís Press.

Hays, S. (2003). Flat broke with children: Women in the age of welfare reform. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hertz, R., & Ferguson, F. I. T. (1997). Kinship strategies and self-sufficiency among single mothers by choice: Post modern family ties. Qualitative Sociology, 20, 187-209.

Hill, L. C., & Hilton, J. M. (1999). Changes in roles following divorce: Comparison of factors contributing to depression in custodial single mothers and custodial single fathers. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 31, 91-114.

Hochschild, A. (2002). Taking care. The American Prospect, 13, April 8.

Kalil, A., & Kunz, J. (2002). Teenage childbearing, marital status, and depressive symptoms in later life. Child Development, 73, 1748-1760.

Kuttner, R. (2002). The politics of family. The American Prospect, 13, April 8.

Lansford, J. E., Ceballo, R., Abbey, A., & Stewart, A. J. (2001). Does family structure matter? A comparison of adoptive, two-parent biological, single-mother, stepfather, and stepmother households. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63, 840-851.

Levine, J. A., Pollack, H., & Comfort, M. E. (2001). Academic and behavioral outcomes among the children of young mothers. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63, 355-369.

Manning, W. D., & Smock, P. J. (1997). Childrenís living arrangements in unmarried-mother families. Journal of Family Issues, 18, 526-544.

Mincy, R. B. (2002). What about Black fathers? The American Prospect, 13, April 8.

Morris, P. A., & Gennetian, L. A. (2003). Identifying the effects of income on childrenís development using experimental data. Journal of Marriage and Family, 65, 716-729.

Nelson, M. (2000). Single mothers and social support: The commitment to and retreat from reciprocity. Qualitative Sociology, 23, 291-318.

Nelson, M. (2002). The commitment to self-sufficiency: Rural single mothers talk about their reliance on welfare. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 31, 582-614.

Nock, S. L. (1998). The consequences of premarital fatherhood. American Sociological Review, 63, 250-263.

Pong, S., Dronkers, J., & Hampden-Thompson, G. (2003). Family policies and childrenís school achievement in single- versus two-parent families. Journal of Marriage and Family, 65, 681-699.

Powell, B., & Downey, D. B. (1997). Living in single-parent households: An investigation of the same-sex hypothesis. American Sociological Review, 62, 521-539.

Risman, B. J. (1987). Intimate relationships from a micro-structural perspective. Gender and Society, 1, 6-32.

Rosenthal, K. M., & Keshet, H. F. (1981). Childcare responsibilities of part-time and single fathers. In P. J. Stein (Ed.), Single Life: Unmarried Adults in Social Context (pp. 306-324). New York: St. Martinís Press.

Rosenthal, M. B. (1990). Single women requesting artificial insemination by donor. In N. L. Stotland (Ed.), Psychiatric Aspects of Reproductive Technology (pp. 113-121). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.

Ross, H. L., & Sawhill, I. V. (1975). Time of transition. The growth of families headed by women. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute.

Sawhill, I. V. (2002). Is lack of marriage the real problem? The American Prospect, 13, April 8.

Siegel, J. (1995). Looking for Mr. Right? Older single women who become mothers. Journal of Family Issues, 16, 194-211.

Teachman, J. (2003). Childhood living arrangements and the formation of coresidential unions. Journal of Marriage and Family, 65, 507-524.

Thompson, E. H., Jr., & Gongla, P. A. (1983). Single-parent families: In the mainstream of American society. In E. D. Mackin & R. H. Rubin (Eds.), Contemporary Families and Alternative Lifestyles: Handbook on Research and Theory (pp. 97-124). London: Sage Publications.

Tilden, V. P. (1984). The relation of selected psychosocial variables to single status of adult women during pregnancy. Nursing Research, 33, 102-107.

Waite, L. J. (1995). Does marriage matter? Demography, 32, 483-507.

Weissbourd, R. (2002). Moral parent, moral child: Family structure matters less to a childís development than the quality of the parenting. The American Prospect, 13, July 15.

Wu, L., & Martinson, B. C. (1993). Family structure and the risk of a premarital birth. American Sociological Review, 58, 210-232.


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