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Single-Parent Household Structure and Education

Increasing rates of divorce and extramarital childbirth have increased the numbers of children in the United States living with a single parent, the vast majority of them with single mothers. These children experience reduced well-being, including weaker educational achievement, such as poorer standardized test scores, and lower educational attainment, with lower rates of high school and college graduation. While this phenomenon has persisted for decades, theory has faced the challenge of explaining the discrepancies, offering a number of competing hypotheses. Many disparate explanations have each found some level of support, but a simple explanation has not emerged. This breadth of evidence suggests that different family structures provide both advantages and disadvantages to children. Children of single mothers do appear to excel by some metrics, but ...

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