Educational Attainment and the Lone Mother A Historical

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					Educational Attainment and the Lone
Mother: A Historical Perspective 1940-
1950
Alicia Jolla
Economics & Public Policy Analysis


 Faculty Advisors: Dr. William Darity, Dept. of Economics
 Postdoctoral Mentor: Dr. Rhonda Sharpe, Dept. of Economics
                          Background
•   Public policy concerns about single mothers are generally focused on low
    income or teenage mothers. Issues of affordable childcare, completion of high
    school, post secondary education and increasing labor market skills, have
    stressed the importance of policy makers to sound decisions concerning single
    mothers.
•   This project seeks to investigate the characteristics of lone mothers with an
    emphasis on educational attainment from a historical perspective. The project
    answers these questions: 1) Who are single mothers and do their
    characteristics differ by marital status (divorced, widowed, separated), 2) Do
    the characteristics of lone mothers controlling for educational attainment
    change significantly over the 50 year period spanning from 1940 to 1990, 3)
    Are there factors that can be identified as having a significant impact on the
    probability of being a lone mother.
                                 Results
•   In the 1940s, the average lone mother was a 43-year-old widow with one child,
    and was without a high school diploma. She was employed in the food
    industry as a waitress, cook, or cashier, and on average earned $59.00 per year,
    which is equivalent to $763.60 in 2002.
•   In the 1950s the average lone mother was a 41-year-old widow with one
    child, and was without a high school diploma. She was employed in the food
    industry, and on average earned $248.23 per year, which is equivalent to
    $3212.70 in 2002
•    In the 1960s the average lone mother was a 40-year-old widow with one child,
    and was without a high school diploma. She was employed in the food
    industry, and on average earned $612.73, which is equivalent to $7930.22 in
    2002.
                        Conclusion
• The research concludes that during this period lone mothers were
  widows with one child. The educational attainment of lone mothers
  shows significant changes throughout the years. From 1940 to 1950
  the percentage of lone mothers without a high school diploma
  increased from 79 percent to a staggering 92 percent. However, by
  1960 the percentage of lone mothers without a high school diploma
  decreased to 53 percent. In 1960 there was a significant difference
  between the percentage of white and black lone mothers with a high
  school diploma, 34 percent and 17 percent respectively. The data
  suggests that factors such as educational attainment do have an impact
  on the probability of being a lone mother.

				
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