Close to one fifth of UK households are lone parents

Family|January 6th 2015

Almost 20 per cent of UK families are headed by lone parents, new EU statistics suggest.

With 18.4 per cent of families falling into the category, the UK is home to more single parents than other country in western Europe according to the figures, published by EU statistical office Eurostat. By comparison, only 14.4 per cent of households in neighbouring France consist of single parent families, and moving north, the figure drops further, to 12.2 percent in Denmark and just 10.6 per cent in the Netherlands. To the west, the Irish figure is also lower than the UK, at 18.1 per cent.

The percentage of single parent families starts to climb over 20 per cent once you reach Eastern Europe – in the Czech Republic it’s 21.4 per cent and in Poland 22.2 per cent. The situation is even more pronounced in the Baltic states – almost a quarter of all families in Lithuania are single parent households, and remarkably, so are more than a third of families in its northern neighbour Latvia, which has the highest percentage of single parent families of all EU countries surveyed.

Switzerland has the lowest percentage – just 9.2 per cent of families consist of lone parents.

No less than five of the 20 individual regions with the highest percentage of single parent families are also located in the UK: Belfast, Liverpool, Glasgow, inner London, and Birmingham. Belfast tops the list of UK regions, with more than a third of families headed by single parents.

The EU region with the highest percentage of single parent families is in fact the Caribbean island of Martinique, an overseas département of France. More than forty per cent of families on the island consist of single parents. Number two on the list is, less surprisingly, Riga, the capital of Latvia, where 38 per cent of families are single parents.

Last month, a US study suggested that the children of single parents are more statistically more likely to live in poverty and to experience violence.

Read the full Eurostat report here.

Photo by Wirawat Lian-udom under a Creative Commons licence

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