The number of households headed by single fathers in the United States has increased nine-fold over the past half-century, demographers say.

In 1960, there were fewer than 300,000 single father households. In 2011, that number soared to more than 2.6 million, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Decennial Census and American Community Survey data. The surge more than doubled that of single mother households, which increased more than four-fold during that time period, from 1.9 million to 8.6 million.

As a result, the portion of single parent homes headed by men has increased from 14 percent to 24 percent.

And a record 8 percent of households with minor children, overall, are headed by a single father, up from just over 1 percent in 1960.

In addition to the divergent rates of increase, there were other notable differences between single father and single mother households. Those fathers were more likely to be living with a partner—41 percent compared to the 16 percent of single mothers with a live-in partner.

They also tend to have higher incomes and are better educated, older and more likely to be White than single mothers.

Single fathers also differ from fathers who head households with two married parents; they are younger, less educated, less financially well-off and less likely to be White.

Several factors have contributed to the growth, a number of which have also driven the increase in single mother households and the decline of two-married-parent households, the report stated.

Among those potential factors were a significant increase in non-marital births, high divorce rates, changes in the legal system that have opened up more opportunities for fathers to gain at least partial custody of children in the event of a breakup and a new public appreciation of fathers as caregivers.


Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO