More single seniors in some
Northern California communities
A story published today by the Daily Review reports that while fewer senior
citizens are living alone in Northern Californias Alameda County now than in 1990,
more and more are opting to stay single in Fremont, Union City and Newark, according to
Census 2000. Data released last week shows that in Alameda County 38,391 men and women
over the age of 65 lived alone in 2000, down 3 percent from the 39,553 who lived alone in
In Fremont, however, the numbers have increased by 23 percent, from 2,252 in 1990 to
2,781 in 2000. In Union City, they have gone up even more, 29 percent, from 552 in 1990 to
713 in 2000. In Newark, they have increased by 11 percent, from 485 in 1990 to 540 in
The good news for single senior men: they are outnumbered 3-to-1 countywide -- and
nearly 5-to-1 in Newark -- by single senior women.
Harold Delgado doesn't care. Although he frequents Union City's Ruggieri Senior Center
-- where he likes "to give the ladies a hard time" -- he says he has no
intention of remarrying.
"People are damn fools if they remarry," he says. "It's better if you
live together, then you don't lose money. You get married and you don't get your
ex-husband's Social Security anymore."
Sunday,August 12, 2001
Two-parent unmarried cohabitation
rises due to welfare rules
A story published by the New York Times reports that five years after Congress
overhauled welfare laws, with the intention of creating more two-parent families, the
proportion of poor American children living in households with two adults is on the rise,
two studies say.
The most significant change in family structure, the studies suggest, has occurred
among low-income blacks. After a decade-long slide, the proportion of black children
living with two married parents increased significantly from 1995 to 2000. An analysis of
census figures shows a 4.1 percentage point jump, to 38.9 percent from 34.8 percent. A
separate survey by the Urban Institute also found that single mothers are increasingly
likely to live with unmarried partners. The increase in cohabitation has been sharpest
among those who have felt the prod of welfare change, the Institute, a research
organization based in Washington, said.
"These marriages and cohabiting households are all about survival," said
Helen Gee, a supervisor at Community Advocates, the largest advocacy agency in Wisconsin
for low- income families. "They are crisis- driven. Women need help with high rent,
utilities, child care and transport. Their struggle is so great they think that two heads
are better than one. Many women are leaving their kids at home all day with these guys
they hardly know. We are seeing a lot of stressed-out clients."
Yet, in many of the two-adult households that have been cobbled together by necessity
in Milwaukee and across the country in the wake of the welfare overhaul, a primary
ingredient for child development stability often goes missing.
For poor children, growing up in a household with cohabiting but unmarried
adults is probably not an improvement over growing up in a single-parent family,
said Kristin Moore, a social psychologist and president of Child Trends, a nonpartisan
research group based in Washington.
"Mostly they don't seem to be better off," said Dr. Moore, adding that more
research needs to be done on the subject. "There is a lot of turbulence in those
families and turbulence is really hard for kids."
Despite concern about the stability of two-parent households formed in the aftermath of
welfare change, there is widespread agreement among welfare experts that something
remarkable has been going on in poor urban communities, particularly in the last five
The confluence of positive trends includes falling rates of crime and drug abuse, the
greatest decline in child poverty, particularly black child poverty, since the 1960's, and
sharp increases in employment among mothers who head families, especially those who have
never been married. In the last decade, there has also been a steady decline in the
teenage birth rate, with the steepest decline among black teenagers.
There are, however, exceptions to the pattern. Early studies of families in three
welfare-to-work programs, all of them precursors to the federal welfare overhaul, have
found unexpected evidence that adolescents have more behavior problems and lower
performance in school than children in other welfare households.
"In many ways welfare reform is working better than I thought it would," said
Wendell Primus, who in 1996 resigned as deputy assistant secretary of health and human
services to protest what he feared would be the severe impact of the welfare overhaul on
children. "The sky isn't falling anymore. Whatever we have been doing over the last
five years, we ought to keep going."
Echoing many welfare experts, Mr. Primus speculates that there is a complex cluster of
possible reasons, including welfare change, behind the decline in single-parent families.
They include a community-based fatherhood movement that insists that young men take
responsibility for their children, as well as an aggressive effort to establish paternity
and enforce child support.
But, like the social workers in Milwaukee, Mr. Primus said that the desperate need for
cash among welfare-to-work mothers is also a key to understanding the trend toward two-
parent households. The squeeze shows up clearly in census figures. While the poorest 40
percent of single mothers increased their yearly earnings by $2,300 from 1995 to 2000,
their disposable income increased just $292, mostly because of lost welfare benefits and
More single fathers are raising
their kids alone
A story published today by the Salt Lake Tribune reports that more and more men, both
in Utah and nationally, are becoming single fathers, according to Census 2000 numbers. In
1990, 7,370 Utah men were raising children on their own; in 2000, the number had grown to
13,674, an increase of some 86 percent.
That's higher than the increase in Utah's single mothers, at 21 percent, and the number
of single fathers in the United States, which rose by 62 percent.
"In years past, the law was that there was a presumption that the mother should be
the custodial parent," said 3rd District Judge Timothy Hanson, who handles some
divorce and custody cases.
Since then, he said, statutes have changed. But Hanson believes the increase in single
fathers stems from more than laws alone: "It's a recognition that fathers can be
equally as good caregivers as a mother, all things being equal."
A "fuzziness" in societal roles has also played a part in the increase of
single fathers, Hanson said. "More fathers now, because the roles are changing, are
more interested in being custodial parents." For instance, women rarely worked
outside the home 25 years ago, and men traditionally were in the role of family
"That doesn't happen anymore," Hanson said. "Usually, both parents are
working, and both parents are trying to supply the custodial needs of the children.
Society's and people's perception of the roles of parents is changing. You'll see a lot
more sharing of parental responsibility, joint legal and physical custody."
Washington state single-parent
homes on the rise
A story published today by the Seattle Times reports that single parenthood, despite
its trials and tribulation, is increasing in Washington state. According to the recent
U.S. census report, 22.2 percent of all children in the state live in single-parent
households, up from 19.6 percent in 1990. Nationwide, an estimated 27 percent of all
children live in single-parent households.
Rates in Washington are highest among African Americans, with 45.4 percent of children
under 18 in single-parent households, a jump from 42.3 percent in 1990. Rates for whites
also increased, from 17.8 percent in 1990 to 20.2 percent in 2000.
Rates for Native American children increased slightly, to 36.9 percent, while
percentages decreased less than 1 percent for both Hispanics, now 24.7 percent, and
Asian/Pacific Islanders, now 15.5 percent, the census found.
As more children live with one parent, the state must step in and help single parents
learn to cope and create a healthy home life, children's advocates say.
Retreat from marriage is a trend extending back several decades, says Robert Plotnick,
a professor in the University of Washington's Evans School of Public Affairs. One
contributing factor is the improving earning power of women, which comes at the same time
poorly educated men find it increasingly difficult to escape poverty.
"Marriage is a different bargain for a woman when she has more economic
clout," Plotnick says.
The census numbers, for example, may reflect a greater willingness of single mothers to
raise children alone.
The census, however, does not take into account that in some households headed by a
single mother, a live-in boyfriend provides both financial and emotional support to her
And unmarried couples who live together now account for more than 40 percent of
nonmarital births nationwide, Plotnick says. "Cohabitation makes these census
statistics a lot more grayer," he says.
But the correlation between single-mother families and poverty is irrefutable.
In 1998, 29.9 percent of U.S. families headed by a single mother were in poverty,
compared with 5.3 percent of families headed by a married couple, Plotnick says.
And in Washington, census numbers show black youth in single-parent families are more
than six times as likely to be in a household headed by a mother as opposed to a father.
The statewide ratio for all races combined is 3-to-1.
Friday, August 10, 2001
Young single male drivers penalized
25% by 'low-cost' insurance program in California
A story published today by the Daily Californian reports that the
Greenlining Institute, a San Francisco-based advocacy group that works with
minorities and the disadvantaged has said that a California program which was
enacted in July 2000 designed to help low-income Californians in the San Francisco
and Los Angeles areas to buy affordable automobile insurance unfairly excludes many
college students from obtaining the same low-cost automobile insurance.
Nidhi Geevarghese, a legal intern for the institute blew the
whistle on the program after she was researching the policy this summer.
"This policy was created to help the working class and poor
people in general, but it has many, many flaws," said Geevarghese. "It has
ended up discriminating against thousands of college students with good driving
The group also accused the program of discriminating against
unmarried males ages 19 to 24 because it charges the demographic group an extra 25 percent
in addition to the base rate, regardless of driving records.
The pilot program, California's Low Cost Automobile Insurance
Program, requires insurance companies to offer cheaper policies to low-income drivers who
qualify for the program. According to state's Department of Insurance Web site, the
program is intended to provide cheap automobile insurance to good drivers who demonstrate
Other eligibility restrictions require that the applicant must not
have a total annual household income exceeding 150 percent of the federal poverty level,
must have a privately owned vehicle with a value less than $12,000 and must be 19 years or
State Senators Martha Escutia, D-Montebello, and Jackie Speier,
D-San Francisco/San Mateo, who authored the original bill, said the original proposal was
to provide affordable insurance to drivers who would normally not be able to buy it. The
bill was signed into law in 1999.
"It is a win-win situation for everyone," Escutia said in
But officials at Greenlining say they intend to lobby for a new law
that helps out needy college students.
Christians divorce rate mirrors nations divorce trend
A story published today by the Chicago Sun-Times
reports that according to a survey conducted by the Barna Research Group, a leading
pollster of American religious trends, fewer born-again Christians in the United States
shack up before marriage, but just as many still end up getting divorced as those who do
not describe themselves as born-again Christians.
Of the 7,000 adults surveyed by the group, only 25 percent of born-again Christians
said they had lived together before marriage, compared with 33 percent of the general
Thirty-six percent of Roman Catholics and 30 percent of Protestants said they had
cohabited before marriage. At 51 percent, atheists were the most likely to live together
unmarried, followed by 42 percent of adults who are affiliated with a faith tradition
other than Christian, the Barna survey showed.
The same survey also revealed that 33 percent of all born-again adults who have been
married have gone through a divorce--nearly identical statistics to incidence of divorce
"It is unfortunate that so many people, regardless of their faith, experience a
divorce, but [it is] especially unsettling to find that the faith commitment of so many
born-again individuals has not enabled them to strengthen and save their marriages,"
said George Barna, president of the research company.
Thursday, August 9, 2001
Deadbeat dads: A national
A story released today by Saloon.com reports that the national controversy over
"deadbeat dads" intensified last month when the Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered
a man who fathered nine children by four different women to stop having kids until he
started supporting them properly. The Wisconsin ruling illustrates the conundrum of
punishing those who can't or won't face up to the role of being a responsible father.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, one-third of American children are
born to an unwed mother.
Low-income fathers are often singled out for being particularly neglectful. But
according to Ronald Mincy, a Columbia University professor of social work, we know very
little about how low-income, unmarried fathers behave or what they think about fatherhood.
Mincy works with a team of researchers at Columbia's Social Indicators Survey Center who,
in partnership with the Bendheim-Thoman Center for Research on Child Wellbeing at
Princeton University, are conducting one of the first national studies on fatherlessness.
Their Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Survey follows the unmarried parents of 3,600
children -- a representative sample of white, black and Latino couples from 20 U.S.
metropolitan areas -- from birth until age 4.
"So far, the data does not indicate that during the first three years of the
child's life, most low-income fathers are irresponsible," Mincy said. "Fathers
are helping during the pregnancy, making financial contributions and visiting the child.
But over time these informal contributions wane as the relationship between the couple
deteriorates. The father becomes discouraged and the mother gets annoyed. The father's
inability to make financial contributions seems part of that deterioration. Static will be
introduced in the relationship that will serve to bar fathers from seeing their
Statistics also affirm that the majority of black children are fatherless. About 70
percent of all African-American births are out of wedlock and over 85 percent of
African-American children will spend some years of their childhood without a father in the
Speed dating for singles
A story released today by the Business Wire reports that
throughout the Chicago area, single young professionals are abandoning the typical bar
scene in favor of something a little more structured and a lot more fun. It's called 3
Minute Dating, Inc. and it's part of a dating trend that's sweeping the nation.
Based on a concept developed by a California singles club, 3 Minute Dating allows
singles to size each other up quickly - in three minutes - before deciding whether they
would like to meet for an actual date.
Singles sit down and talk one-on-one in three-minute intervals. When the three minutes
are up, each writes "yes" or "no" next to the other's name on a card.
If both write "yes," they receive each other's e-mail addresses a short time
later. Every three minutes, everyone switches partners - so by the end of the night, each
single has met up to 33 potential dates.
"We started 3 Minute Dating after deciding there had to be a better way to meet
people than through traditional dating methods," said co-founder Warwick Greville.
"We wanted something fun, simple, party like, and very cost effective. Our goal is
roughly $1 a date. You can't beat that."
The company plans themed events throughout the year, including holiday parties, and
plans on holding events for single parents, over-40 singles, and other special groups in
"This is a great way to select what you like to see, hear, and feel, for a future
'full' date or social gathering," said Greville. "We encourage people to get on
each other's social lists, to meet out, and to spend more time with each other after
attending our events."
Wednesday, August 8, 2001
Assemblies of God passes
resolution on divorce
A story released today by the Associated Press
reports that the Assemblies of God church has passed a resolution Wednesday that will
allow some divorced clergy candidates to be ordained.
The church's general council, composed of delegates and pastors, passed the resolution
by secret ballot on a vote of 998 to 834. The resolution, however, only applies to
candidates who divorced before they converted.
In 1991 and 1997, the Assemblies of God -- among the largest Pentecostal denominations
-- defeated resolutions similar to the one that passed Wednesday.
Some who supported the resolution say the church has been missing out on qualified
leaders because of its divorce restrictions. Others say they supported the restrictions
because standards must remain high for church leaders.
Mel Surface, a voting member of the general council, said the church's standards remain
high. He said the resolution doesn't change the church's opposition to divorce or its
concern about the state of marriage and family.
``What it does is take into consideration whether a person experienced divorce and
remarriage before becoming a Christian,'' he said. ``And it empowers our executive
presbytery to consider applicants on an individual basis as to whether or not the divorce
and remarriage did occur before conversion to Christ.''
The Assemblies of God was founded in 1914 and has 2.5 million members in the United
States and about 35 million worldwide.
Tuesday, August 7, 2001
A survey on single parents and
An article published today by Budget Travel reports that the lack of reasonably priced
travel options for single parents is no secret. Brenda Elwell, a travel writer who
publishes a monthly newsletter for single parents on her Web site (www.singleparenttravel.net)
is aiming to change the tour operators neglect on single parents traveling with their
As part of her research for a book she is writing which focuses on single parents and
traveling, she is compiling a survey. Participants need not necessarily be single parents.
As long as you are an adult who has gone on vacation as a lone adult with children, you
can take part in the survey. So single grandparents, married people who travel with
children but without a spouse, or solo adults who travel with children are welcomed.
If you'd like to help out by answering the survey simply click here.
Rising number of single
Mexican mothers in New York City
A story published today by the Christian Science Monitor reports that in several major
US cities, including San Antonio and Los Angeles, Mexicans in New York are the
fastest-growing immigrant group, and, by at least one estimate, 60 percent of that
population is female.
The Mexican community in New York City has increased by 180 percent in the past decade
- from 93,000 in the 1990 census to 261,000 in 2000, says Jeffrey Passel, the principal
research associate at The Urban Institute in Washington. According to Emily Rosenbaum, a
sociology professor at Fordham University , 70 percent of Mexicans who rent apartments in
the city live in cramped conditions, compared with about 40 percent of other immigrant
While single men crowd together in almost any space, mothers need places where children
can sleep at night and do homework during the day. With many relatives' homes already
filled to capacity, these women move in with other families or strangers.
Ms. Rosenbaum says about 20 percent of Mexican households include nonrelatives. This is
particularly true for women. "There are more single women than their support network
can support," says Robert Smith, a sociology professor at Barnard College, who has
been studying Mexican immigrants in New York City since the 1980s.
For example, Maria Ranchero, who lives in Brooklyn, wants to live alone with her
two children. But after more than a decade in New York, that dream remains unfulfilled.
She earns $8 an hour at a clothing factory, but the hours are unsteady. As a result, she
can't afford to support her two children and pay the rent. She had rented her back room
for $200 of the $535 she pays in monthly rent to a coworker, but the woman did not treat
her children well, she says, and she asked her to leave.
Ms. Ranchero was looking for another female roommate last fall, but then her sister's
brother-in-law needed a room. "I was scared to live with a man," she says. For
the nine months they lived together, she never once left her children there alone, she
says, even if she was running across the street for some milk. He left two months ago. And
while she says her comfort has been restored, she can't continue for long with the room
For most of the single mothers, it is the transience of their lifestyles that they find
Still, many are sure they're doing the right thing. "Women no longer have faith
that things will get better in Mexico," says Smith. "They see the US as their