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Good Graph Friday: The high cost of single parenthood

Sep. 16, 2011 at 8:04 AM ET

msnbc.com /

The poverty data released this week from the U.S. Census offers another stark reminder of the economic toll of single parenthood.

Even before the Great Recession began, poverty rates for single moms and dads were much higher than for married families. The economic weakness of the past few years has only made things worse for parents raising kids on their own.

Nearly 41 percent of single-mother families with children under 18 were living below the poverty line in 2010, according to the Census data.

Single fathers with kids under 18 also were struggling, with about 24 percent of those families living below the poverty line.

By comparison, just around 9 percent of married couples with kids under 18 fell below the poverty line last year.

Legal Momentum, the Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, which first noted the discrepancy, also pointed out that there has been a gender gap in the poverty rate since such measures began.

It’s a different story for single parents in many other developed countries. Poverty rates for children of single parents were much lower in Western European countries including Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway, according to the group, which used data from the mid-2000s, before the recession began.

Germany and Canada, like the United States, had relatively high levels of poverty among children of single mothers, according to the group, which is "dedicated to advancing the rights of all women and girls."

Related:

Poverty rate hits 18-year high

Census: It's crowded at mom and dad's

How children suffer from joblessness

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