Press Release | Another New Report Shows Lone Parents Experience Higher Levels of Deprivation and Child Poverty

One Family, Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating, welcomes the ERSI report Poverty Dynamics of Social Risk Groups in the EU in relation to the specific barriers faced by lone parents in both accessing work and their experience of higher levels of deprivation and child poverty. The paper draws on the EU-SILC dataset to investigate changes over the period 2004 to 2014 in the trends and dynamics in poverty for social risk groups in selected European countries representing different welfare regimes. Out of 11 EU countries, the persistent poverty gap in Ireland was the largest; it also increased the most during the study’s time frame.

The main findings of the report indicate that one-parent families in all countries have among the highest risks of both material deprivation and income poverty. Ireland, along with the UK, stood out as having poorer outcomes for vulnerable groups such as lone parents, especially in terms of material deprivation. Both are liberal welfare regime countries. The report also showed that lone parents face significant challenges in converting resources such as capital and skills into desired outcomes, with 43% of lone parents experiencing material deprivation in at least one of two consecutive years compared to 13% for other adults aged 30 to 65.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, states: “We have had multiple reports telling us that lone parents face significant barriers in being able to get into the workforce, in earning enough money to sustain their families and being able to keep their jobs. There is an incredible amount of evidence all telling the Government what they need to do which is to prioritise supports to people parenting alone who are on social welfare or low incomes.”

Karen continues: “It is extremely frustrating to see that not all social welfare cuts have yet been restored since Budget 2012; so many parents are not even back at the low level of income they were at in 2011. This is too long for thousands of children to have grown up in crushing poverty and to know nothing else. There is a Government commitment to lifting over 100,000 children out of poverty in the next two years – strong and specific actions must be focussed on children living in one-parent families to achieve this.”

According to Dorothy Watson of the ESRI, policies which successfully reduce poverty for the population as a whole are not enough to support vulnerable groups. “Proactive steps are required to address the deprivation experienced by lone parents and adults with disabilities, and also to tackle the higher rate of child poverty associated with these households. Such interventions are particularly urgent in Ireland, as the data show that the deprivation gap is most pronounced here,” she said, in the organisation’s press release.

The report also found that lone parents and adults with a disability face barriers when trying to get work. The ESRI suggested improving access to affordable childcare, flexible work arrangements and protection of secondary benefits such as medical cards to make getting to work easier.


ERSI report : Poverty dynamics of social risk groups in the EU: an analysis of the EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions, 2005 to 2014

  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family (Census 2016)
  • 356,203 children lived in one parent families, representing more than one in five or 21.2% of all children in family units (Census 2016)
  • The average one parent family is has 1.63 children compared to an average of 1.95 for the population overall (Census 2016)
  • Individuals living in households where there was one adult and one or more children aged under 18 had the highest consistent poverty rate at 24.6%. This is compared to a consistent poverty rate of 6.4% for two-parent households. This means that lone parents are four times as likely to be living in consistent poverty compared to two-parent households. (SILC 2016)
  • 51% of lone parent households with one or more children experienced enforced deprivation. This compares to 21% of the general population who experienced deprivation, meaning lone parents are 2.5 times as likely to be experiencing deprivation than the rest of the population. (SILC 2016)
  • 40.2% of lone parent households are at risk of poverty. This is compared to an at risk of poverty rate of 12% for two-parent households. This means that lone parents are almost 3.5 times as likely to be at risk of poverty compared to households with two parents. (SILC 2016)
  • People in lone parent households continue to have the lowest disposable income out of all households with children in the State (SILC 2016)
  • For further facts and figures, visit