Children who grew up in a single-parent household are less happy and less well off than their peers, a new study suggests.
Almost a quarter – 24 per cent – of children in the UK are currently being raised by one parent and in as many as 80 per cent of those cases they are cared for by their mother. Such children are nine per cent less likely to be in a romantic relationship as an adult and, on average, have fewer friends than those who grew up with both parents, researchers from the University of Warwick claim.
They are also reportedly more likely to be unemployed and they tend to earn around 30 per cent less than their peers.
These findings came from a study of around 24,000 people between the ages of 18 and 66. Of this group, the research team identified 641 people whose entire childhood was spent with a single parent and a further 1,539 who spent part of their formative years in that situation.
Each participant was asked to rank their overall happiness with their lives. Their annual income, level of social integration and success in romantic relationships were also analysed. The researchers found that, on average, adults who grew up with one parent were 0.2 points less happy with their lives on a scale of 0 to ten.
Co-author Dr Sakari Lemola works in the University’s Psychology Department. He said their research indicates that “both parents still provide important resources even when children have already grown up and left their parent’s home”. These can include “financial support as well as access to social networks, which is important to find a good job”.
By contrast, those who only grew up with one parent are “less likely to know their second parent well and to receive such support during adult life” he continued.
The full study was published in the academic journal PLOS One.