According to a new research report published by The Urban Institute, millions of American mothers live apart from their children.
In 2002, 4.7 million children did not live with their mothers. That number is up from the 3.7 million reported in 1997.
A great deal of research, writing and current legislation has focused on nonresident fathers. Until now, nonresident mothers have been largely overlooked.
Drawing on the Urban Institute's 2002 National Survey of America's Families,"researchers Liliana Sousa and Elaine Sorensen offer students of America's underclass "The Economic Reality of Nonresident Mothers and Their Children."
Sousa and Sorensen found that nonresident mothers differ from nonresident fathers in two significant ways:
First, these mothers are more likely to live with some of their children than the fathers.
Second, they are more likely to be poor. The poverty rate among nonresident fathers was 11 percent in 2001 compared to 27 percent among nonresident mothers. Given the economic differences, it is not surprising to find mothers are less likely than fathers to pay child support.
Children who live apart from their mother have very different living arrangements than those who don't live with their father. Thirty-nine percent of children with a nonresident mother live apart from both parents, while only 10 percent of those with a nonresident father live with neither parent.
Not surprisingly, most children who live with a non-parental caregiver do not receive child support and they experience relatively high rates of poverty.
A prepublication draft of the report, from the Urban Institute's Assessing the New Federalism project, is available at:
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