Higher education no barrier to low income status for lone parents – Child & Family
OTTAWA — Higher education is no guarantee of avoiding low income for single mothers, says a study on lone parents produced by Human Resources Development Canada. A higher level of education is associated with higher earnings and a lower chance of being low income.
The Profiles and Transitions of Groups at Risk of Social Exclusion: Lone Parents, which was authored by Costa Kapsalis and Pierre Tourigny for HRDC and was based on data from the 1993 to 1998 longitudinal panel of the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics, focussed on lone mothers because they comprise 93 per cent of low income single parents.
In addition, lone mothers had the highest incidence of low income of any family type, and in 1998 39 per cent had incomes below the Statistics Canada past-tax income Low Income Cut-Off while about 55 per cent did not work for pay in 1998.
As well, low income lone mothers shared a number of common characteristics, such as 60 per cent not being in a marital or common law union when their first child was born, 47 per cent having a pre-school aged child, 25 per cent being a student and 28 per cent being a high school drop-out. Other common characteristics were living in the Atlantic region of Canada and being a recent immigrant, aboriginal or disabled.
However, the report also found that “low income is a dynamic phenomenon” with the two most common events associated with significant exits–viewed as a 20 per cent increase in family income from low income–being an increase in own hours of work and a change in the family status by forming a marital or common law union and/or someone else becoming the main income recipient.
In their conclusion, the authors recommend that government policies and strategies to address low income lone mothers should focus “on providing employment services, such as referrals and employment counselling, coupled with a more generous treatment of earnings under Social Assistance and wage subsidies to those able to work a significant number of paid hours,” since lack of paid work or limited attachment to paid work are common factors among low income and Social Assistance single mothers.
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