Good Enough Mothering? Feminist Perspectives on Lone Motherhood

By Elizabeth Bortolaia Silva | Go to book overview

NOTES
1
Members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
2
Increases in the proportion of families headed by lone parents have characterized many countries in recent years, though rates of change have varied considerably. The greatest increases have been in the former USSR (with the figure doubling from about 10 per cent in the early 1970s to about 20 per cent by the mid-1980s) and the USA (where the figure stood at about 24 per cent in the mid-1980s). In Sweden, which had the highest figure in the industrialized world in the early 1970s (15 per cent), the increase to 17 per cent by the mid-1980s was much less pronounced. Much lower proportions, accompanied by only minimal increases, characterized France, where the figure was 10 per cent in the mid-1980s, and Japan, where it hovered around 4 per cent throughout the 1980s (Burns and Scott 1994: xii-xiii).
3
In fact, only a minority of cases fit the stereotype of miscreant characteristically invoked by the critics—of young, unmarried mothers. Less than 4 per cent of all lone mothers in the UK were under the age of 20 in 1991 (Haskey 1994:10).
4
There is a considerable literature on the lack of coincidence between household and family and on the limitation of available statistics for revealing the complexities of household formation. See Lauras-Lecoh (1990) for a general discussion of the situation in Africa, and the UN Demographic Yearbook 1987 for a lengthy account of varying definitions of household and head of household across nations. For specific discussion of female-headed households in developing countries, see Youssef and Hetler (1983).
5
The UN’s Special Issue of the Demographic Yearbook on Population, Ageing and the Situation of Elderly Persons, published in 1993, gives more recent data on female-headed households, though for only eight countries. In view of the small number of cases and the fact that no breakdown of female heads by marital status is provided, I have relied on material included in the 1987 volume. If now somewhat dated, it remains the most comprehensive set available and serves the purpose of indicating the range of variability across nations, which is the primary concern of this chapter.
6
While disaggregating the category of lone parenthood in respect of marital status is crucial for a full appreciation of the nature and variability of the needs of those included within it, finding statistics that permit such disaggregation and particularly allow for cross-national comparisons in this area is fraught with difficulties. Most statistics are organized around legal status—unmarried, married, divorced, separated, widowed—with some of these sometimes merged. Other forms of union—variously described as consensual, cohabitation, common-law or

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