Press release

Publication of working paper no. 93 Lone parents and employment: an exploration of findings from the Families and Children’s Study 2006-8

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Work entry and retention for lone mothers, along with the attitudes of lone mothers to work and caring for their children.

This analysis undertaken by the National Centre for Social Research explores the factors affecting work entry and retention for lone mothers, along with the attitudes of lone mothers to work and caring for their children. The authors used an analytical technique known as structural equation modelling to interpret longitudinal survey data from the Families and Children’s Study.

This research was commissioned as part of the Lone Parent Obligations evaluation programme. Lone Parent Obligations requires lone parents, with a youngest child of seven, to move from an inactive benefit (Income Support) to Jobseeker’s Allowance. In the Emergency Budget of June 2010, the Coalition Government announced plans to reduce further the age to five years from 2012.

This research was commissioned to inform possible analytic strategies for the data that will emerge from the ongoing evaluation of the Lone Parent Obligations policy. Lone Parent Obligations requires lone parents, with a youngest child of seven, to move from an inactive benefit (Income Support) to Jobseekers Allowance. In the Emergency Budget of June 2010, the Coalition Government announced plans to reduce further the age to 5 years from 2012.

The report is being published in the DWP working paper series.  It is primarily a technical report exploring the methodological value of Structural Equation Modelling.  In addition, the report considers the potential uses of a set of questions devised by the Department to better understand the choices and constraints faced by all mothers with regard to working.

Despite this emphasis on the technical content, some interesting findings are presented in the paper. For example, that lone parents’ attitudes to work and parenting may change following a successful transition into work, suggesting that some lone mothers, on entering employment, become more confident about the possibility of combining work and parenting. This finding broadly supports the policy objective of Lone Parent Obligations in encouraging more lone parents to enter the workplace. However, this and other findings should at this stage be treated as indicative because the sample used (around 800 lone mothers) is not large enough for us to draw conclusive findings.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The analysis was undertaken by Wojtek Tomaszewski, Jenny Chanfreau and    Matt     Barnes from the National Centre for Social Research
  2. It is published on 7 December in the DWP Working Paper Series: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/WP93.pdf