The families we work with and represent come in all shapes, sizes and forms – no two one-parent families are the same. Here are what the key facts and figures about one-parent families in Ireland show:

About One-Parent Families in Ireland

  • 1 in 5 people in Ireland live in a one-parent family (Census 2016)
  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family (Census 2016)

There were 218,817 family units with children (of any age) headed by a lone parent. This is an increase of over 3,500 families since 2011. Almost 90,000 were single; a further 50,496 were widowed while the remaining 68,378 were separated or divorced.

  • This represented approximately one in four of families with children and one in five of all families (25.4% of all family units with children in Ireland and 18% of all family units).
  • 356,203 children lived in one parent families, representing more than one in five or 21.2% of all children in family units
  • 84% of lone parents were female and 13.6% were male (approximately one in seven are male).
  • The average one parent family is has 1.63 children compared to an average of 1.95 for the population overall.
  • The total number of divorced people in Ireland has increased from 87,770 in 2011 to 103,895 in 2016.This is an increase of over 44,000 people in the last ten years.
  • In contrast, the number of people identified as separated has levelled off and stood at 118,178, up marginally from 116,194 five years earlier. As divorce in Ireland generally requires a period of separation in the first instance (up to five years) the figures reflects both a progression for people from separation to divorce, combined with more people becoming separated.

Source: Census 2016

About the One-Parent Family Payment

The most up to date information on the One Parent Family Payment (OFP) and Jobseeker’s Transition Payment (JST) since the recent OFP reforms:

  • Of the approximately 56,000 lone parents in receipt of OFP or JST, 34,700 are not engaged in employment and so remain below the income poverty threshold.
  • There are more than 14,000 One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) recipients in employment, and of 14,500 JST recipients, 5,000 recipients work. Family Income Supplement is also an important support for working parents with approximately 27,000 lone parents in receipt of the payment.
  • The number of One-Parent Family Payment recipients has decreased from 92,326 in 2010, before the reforms were announced.
  • Of the approximately 25,500 customers who exited the OFP scheme on 2 July, 2015, the majority of customers transitioned to the Jobseeker’s Transitional payment, the Jobseeker’s Allowance payment and the Family Income Supplement. – 13,600 (or 54%) of them moved to the Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment (JST); – 2,500 (or 10%) of them moved to the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) scheme, and – 8,100 (or 32%) of them moved to the Family Income Supplement (FIS) scheme.

Source: Dept. of Social Protection – January 2017

Poverty and Deprivation Statistics

Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2015 Results released in January 2017 showed:

Deprivation rates for lone parents

Deprivation is the inability to afford at least two basic necessities, from a list of 11, such as going 24 hours without a substantial meal or being cold because parents are unable to afford to heat the home.

  • Those living in households with one adult and one or more children aged under 18 had the highest deprivation rate in 2015 at 57.9%.
  • Those living in lone parent households continue to experience the highest rates of deprivation with almost 58%  of individuals from these households experiencing one or more forms of deprivation.
  • 58% (almost three in five) of lone parent households with one or more children experienced enforced deprivation. This compares to 25% of the general population who experienced deprivation.
  • People in lone parent households continue to have the lowest disposable income out of all households with children in the State

Consistent poverty rates for lone parents

Consistent poverty means that children are living in households with incomes below 60% of the national median income and experiencing deprivation based on the agreed 11 deprivation indicators.

  • Individuals living in households where there was one adult and one or more children aged under 18 had the highest consistent poverty rate at 26.2%, an increase from 25% in 2014. This is compared to a consistent poverty rate of 7.7% for two-parent households.

At risk of poverty rates for lone parents

At risk of poverty means that children are living in households with incomes below 60% of the national median income.

  • The ‘at risk of poverty’ rate for households with one adult and one or more children aged under 18 was 36.2%.
  • 36.2% of lone parent households are at risk of poverty with only 0.3% reduction in this figure since 2014. This is compared to an at risk of poverty rate of 14.5% for two-parent households.

 Other statistics

  • There was a small increase in the numbers experiencing an inability to keep the home adequately warm in 2015.
  • The types of deprivation most commonly experienced by those at risk of poverty were an inability to replace worn out furniture (24.4%), afford a morning/afternoon/evening out (18.6%) and have family/friends over for a meal/drink (16.8%).
  • For those living in consistent poverty, there was increase in eight of the eleven types of deprivation.
  • The types of deprivation most commonly experienced by those living in consistent poverty were an inability to replace worn out furniture (74.2%), afford a morning/afternoon/evening out (67.8%) and have family/friends over for a meal/drink (61.8%).
  • Over half of those living in consistent poverty (53.3%) reported going without heating at some stage in the last 12 months.

Full release from CSO here.

The Distribution of Wealth in Ireland Today

A recent TASC report published in November 2016 details the facts that one-parent families are:

  • Less likely to own their own home and face significant barriers to owning property.
  • Have business assets at 1/5 of the average rate of people in Ireland.
  • Have savings of €300 on average, less than 10% of others.
  • Have double the rates of debt to assets and are credit constrained at three times the rate of average households.
  • The average household has a net worth seven times greater than the average for a single parent household.
  • The average net wealth for a single parent is €30,600 which compares to an average figure of €218,700 for all households. Half of all single parents have less than €1,400 in net wealth.

Single parents are significantly behind all other household types when it comes to wealth.

A full copy of the report is available here.

About One-Parent Families in Work

The Quarterly National Household Survey released at the end of September 2016 revealed the most recent employment statistics for the period April- June 2016.

  • In Q2 2016, the employment rate of lone parents (aged 15-64) was 56.4%. This compares with 73.0% for the adult members of couples without children and 72.1% for the adult members of couples with children.
  • The employment rate of lone parents (aged 15-64) whose youngest child was aged 0 to 5 years was 46.0% in Q2 2016 compared to 57.2% where the youngest child was aged 6 to11 and 56.4% where the youngest child was aged 12 to 17. This indicates that, as children get older, the prohibitive costs of childcare are reduced and lone parents are more likely to engage in work
  • There were 7,500 lone parents classified as long-term unemployed in Q2 2016, compared to 34,400 adult members of couples with children classified as long-term unemployed in the same period.
  • On average, 54.1% of lone parents were participating in the labour market in Q2 2016. The participation rate of males in couples with children was 87.8% while the corresponding participation rate for females was 64.4%. This dispels the myth that lone parents are not engaging in, and seeking, work outside the home.

Source: CSO-QNHS,Q2.

One-Parent Family Stats in Ireland by County

Stats by County as taken from Census 2016 update.

Carlow: There are 2,706 lone parent households in Carlow; 86.5% lone mothers, 13.5% lone fathers. One-parent families make up 25% of all households in Carlow and Carlow accounts for 1.2% of all lone parents living in Ireland.

Cavan: There are 3054 lone parent households in Cavan; 85% lone mothers, 15% lone fathers. One-parent families make up 21.6% of all households in Cavan. Cavan accounts for 1.4% of one parent families in Ireland.

Clare: There are 5,053 lone parent households in Clare; 84% lone mothers, 16% lone fathers. One parent families account for 23.3% of all families with children in Clare.

Cork: There are 6,753 lone parent households in Cork City; 87% were lone mothers, with 13% lone fathers. According to recent data, 16,503 lone parent households in Cork County; 85% were lone mothers, with 15% lone fathers. One parent families account for 35.3% of all families with children in Cork City and Lone parent families account for 20.8% of all families with children in Cork County.

Donegal: There are 7,604 lone parent households in Donegal; 86% lone mothers, 14% lone fathers. One-parent families made up 13% of all households in Donegal. Donegal accounts for 3.5% of one parent families in Ireland and Lone parent families account for 25.9% of families with children in Donegal.

Dublin: There are 66,365 lone parent households in Dublin; 88% lone mothers, 12% lone fathers. There are 29,164 lone parent households in Dublin City of which are 88% lone mothers, 12% lone fathers. There are 15,559 lone parent households in South Dublin; 88% lone mothers and 12% lone fathers. Fingal with total of 13,247 lone parents; 87.8 lone mothers and 12.2% lone fathers are recorded. Finally, Dun-Laoighaire / Rathdown; lone parents are 8,395 and 86.4% lone mothers, 13.6% lone fathers. To sum up One parent families account for 36% of all families with children living in Dublin City, and One parent families account for 28.2% of all families with children living in South Dublin while One parent families account for 23.1% of all families with children in Fingal, and finally One parent families account for 22.4% of all families with children in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.

Galway: There are 3,336 lone parent households in Galway City; 88.7% lone mothers, 11.3% lone fathers. There are 6,856 lone parent households in Galway County; 84.5% lone mothers, 15.4% lone fathers. One-parent families make up 50.4% of all households in Galway county and city. Galway accounts for 3.1% of one parent families in Ireland.

Kerry: There are 6,468 lone parent households in Kerry; 85% lone mothers, 15% lone fathers. One-parent families make up 24.9% of all households in Kerry.

Kildare: There are 9,167 lone parent households in Kildare; 87.2% lone mothers, 12.8% lone fathers. One-parent families make up 17.9% of all households in Kildare

Kilkenny: There are 4,262 lone parent households in Kilkenny; 84.6% lone mothers, 15.4% lone fathers. One-parent families make up 18% of all households in Kilkenny

Laois: There are 3,807 lone parents in Laois; 86% lone mothers, 14% lone fathers. One parent families account for 23.4% of all families with children in Laois.

Leitrim: There are 1272 lone parent households in Leitrim; 87% lone mothers, 13% lone fathers. One-parent families make up 22.7% of all households in Leitrim.

Limerick: There are 9097 lone parent households in Limerick City and County; 87% lone mothers, 13% lone fathers. One-parent families make up 26% of all households in Limerick.

Longford: There are 2010 lone parent households in Longford; 86% lone mothers, 14% lone fathers. One-parent families make up 26.7% of all households in Longford.

Louth: There are 6,786 lone parent households in Louth; 87% lone mothers, 13% lone fathers. One-parent families make up 27.3% of all households in Louth.

Mayo: There are 5,534 lone parent households in Mayo; 85% lone mothers, 15% lone fathers. One-parent families make up 24.1% of all households in Mayo.

Meath: There are 7812 lone parent households in Meath; 85% lone mothers, 15% lone fathers. One-parent families make up 20.2% of all households in Meath.

Monaghan: There are 2,756 lone parent households in Monaghan; 83.4% lone mothers, 16.6% lone fathers. One-parent families make up 23.6% of all households in Monaghan.

Offaly: There are 3,679 lone parent households in Offaly; 84.9% lone mothers, 15% lone fathers. One-parent families make up 24.4% of all households in Offaly.

Roscommon: There are 2,610 lone parent households in Roscommon; 84.3% lone mothers, 15.6% lone fathers. One-parent families make up 22.4% of all households in Roscommon.

Sligo: There are 2,926 lone parent households in Sligo; 86% lone mothers, 14% lone fathers. One-parent families make up 25.8% of all households in Sligo.

Tipperary: There are 7793 lone parent households in Tipperary; 85.3% lone mothers, 14.7% lone fathers. One parent families account for 26% of families with children in Tipperary.

Waterford: There are 5,975 lone parent households in Waterford City and County; 85.5% lone mothers, 14.5% lone fathers. One-parent families make up 28% of all households in Waterford.

Westmeath: There are 4,111 lone parent households in Westmeath; 85.2% lone mothers, 14.8% lone fathers. One-parent families make up 24.7% of all households in Westmeath.

Wexford: There are 7,621 lone parent households in Wexford; 86.4% lone mothers, 13.6% lone fathers. One-parent families make up 26.8% of all households in Wexford.

Wicklow: There are 6,901 lone parent households in Wicklow; 87% lone mothers, 13% lone fathers. One-parent families make up 24.7% of all households in Wicklow.


This page was last updated on 09.10.2017.