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Mother’s Educational Level and Single Motherhood

Comparing Spain and Italy
© Ingo Bartussek - Fotolia.com
During the second half of the 20th century there was a positive relationship between single parenthood and the mother’s educational level in Spain and Italy. However, several important transformations contemplated by Goode (1993) and McLanahan (2004) suggest that this relationship may have been inverted in Spain but perhaps not in Italy. The purpose of a new study by researchers Anna Garriga, Sebastià Sarasa and Paolo Berta is to test this hypothesis.
 
They used EU_SILC data from waves 2005 and 2011 and logistic regressions and found the relationship between the mother’s educational level and being a single mother is negative in Spain, while it is not significant in Italy. However, they found that for Italian mothers aged 40 and younger and mothers from northwest Italy, this relationship is also negative. By contrast, for older mothers and mothers from the islands or southern Italy, this association is positive. Meanwhile, for mothers from the central and northeast regions, the relationship between educational level and single motherhood is not significant.
 
These results show how Spain and some parts of Italian society are moving towards family models similar to those in the Northern European countries. The single-mother households dealing with the economic crisis that started in 2008 have lower socioeconomic backgrounds than the single mothers who suffered through previous crises, and therefore the consequences of this crisis for children in single-parent families might be even more negative, especially in Spain.