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Lone parents and employment

An exploration of findings from the Families and Children Study 2006-08

Woman working out finances
Published: December 2010

Aim

To explore the factors and attitudes that affect lone mothers’ entry into work and work retention. 

Findings

Mothers who view parenting as a job are less likely to move into work

  • Mothers who view parenting as a job and as something they’ve chosen are less likely to intend to work in the next 12 months.
  • Mothers who haven’t been in paid employment in the past two years hold more pro-parenting attitudes and are less likely to express positive attitudes towards combining work and parenting.
  • Mothers who want to work are more likely to feel motivated to combine work and parenting. These attitudes are associated with the view that staying at home is socially stigmatising.
  • Mothers who move into work subsequently express more positive attitudes  towards combining work and parenting.

Mother with health problems/disabilities more likely to feel ‘stay at home’ stigma

  • Mothers with a health problem or disability are more likely to feel that there is a stigma attached to staying at home.

Mothers’ work attitudes are affected by the age of their children

  • Mothers with older children are more likely to express work-oriented attitudes and intend to work in the next 12 months.
  • Mothers with younger children are more likely to express more parenting-oriented attitudes.
  • Mothers whose youngest child is aged 7-10 are more likely than mothers with babies to enter work, unlike mothers with children in other age groups.

Using formal, or a combination of formal and informal, childcare makes returning to work more likely

  • Mothers who use formal childcare, or a combination of formal and informal childcare, are more likely to enter into work.
  • Mothers who use both formal and informal childcare are more likely to retain the work they have entered into.
  • Mothers who use informal childcare only are more likely to intend to work

Methodology

Analysis of data collected from the ‘Choices and Constraints’ questions on the Families and Children Study.

Read the report