The parenting and economising practices of lone parents: Policy and evidence

Esther Dermott, Marco Pomati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
848 Downloads (Pure)


UK governments have historically viewed lone parents as a political and social problem. This paper argues that present-day political discourse increasingly positions lone parents as deficient parents, suggesting that they are more likely to fail to engage with good parenting practices than parents in couple households and may lack the resource management skills of successful families. We critique claims of an association between poor parenting and lone parenthood status using data from the UK Poverty and Social Exclusion (PSE) 2012 survey. We find negligible differences in the parenting behaviours of those living in lone and couple households, and lone parents (who are mainly mothers) actually cut back on their own expenditure to a greater extent than other parents in order to provide for children. These findings undermine the viability of links made between ‘poor’ parenting and family living arrangements; such claims are grounded in erroneous individualised accounts of disadvantage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-81
Number of pages20
JournalCritical Social Policy
Issue number1
Early online date25 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016

Structured keywords

  • Bristol Poverty Institute
  • SPAIS Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship


  • economising
  • families
  • lone mothers
  • lone parents
  • parenting
  • poverty
  • PSE 2012


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