The reasons for the particularly high burden of poverty of single-parent families are multidimensional. In addition to the systemic disadvantages inherent to the double burden of single parents as the main person responsible for ensuring family income and care for the children, there are other reasons in which individual challenges have a very detrimental effect. These include disadvantages such as comparatively low educational attainment or gender discrimination.
For example, it can be seen that single parents are more likely to have a low level of education and that the risk of poverty increases as the level of education decreases (Härkönen 2018:39). Especially in Germany, it can be seen that single mothers are more likely to work part-time (40.0%) than full-time (27.9%) (Jaehrling et al. 2014:353, as of 2008). Furthermore, it is striking that in the countries studied, Germany, France and Sweden, women in two-parent families tend to work more frequently than women in single-parent families, regardless of the extent of employment (Jaehrling et al. 2014:353; status 2003-2008). Moreover, for the countries studied, Finland and Germany, it can be seen that the employment of single mothers also increases as the age of their youngest child increases (Zagel and Hübgen 2018:177-78).
In addition, single mothers face a particular burden due to existing gender-specific disadvantages. For example, the classic understanding of roles is still deeply rooted in our society. It is true that there is a process of change in the sense of emancipation and the redefinition of the understanding of roles. Nevertheless, more than 60% of the population surveyed in western Germany in 2008 agreed with the statement, "A young child is likely to suffer if the mother works" (Jaehrling et al. 2011: 31).
That parental care continues to be highly valued can also be assumed by the proportion of under-threes who are cared for exclusively by parents.
With a view to structural disadvantages in the world of work, it can be noted that the classic understanding of roles continues to have an impact on the framework conditions that influence employment for women. One example is the gender pay gap, which means that men are often given preferential treatment when it comes to salaries because of differences in age, education level and career choice (Kümmerling and Postels 2020: 196).
The additional responsibility of childcare for single mothers often leads them to enter unstable employment in favor of flexible work schedules. For example, the employment situation (2008) of mothers in Germany, France, and Sweden shows that single mothers are twice as likely as mothers in two-parent families to engage in temporary employment, are more likely to start a new employment relationship, and are more likely to enter a period of unemployment (Jaehrling et al. 2014:355-56).
Furthermore, single mothers show a less adequate work-life balance than two parents (Horemans and Marx 2018:197).
Overall, it is clear that many factors such as.
- gender culture,
- working conditions that inhibit work-life balance,
- an unstable employment relationship but also
- individual characteristics such as low educational attainment
influence women's gainful employment.
For single mothers, the overall responsibility as a single person and bearing the financial situation of the family alone is contrary to the responsibility towards the care of the children (Morissens 2018: 359).