New Report Proves Marriage is not Responsible for Children’s Well-being

Press Release

New Report Proves Marriage is not Responsible for Children’s Well-being

(Dublin, Friday 20 December 2013) One Family, Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families, welcomes the launch today of the report ‘Growing Up in a One-Parent Family’, a study by researchers at the University of Limerick using the ‘Growing Up in Ireland’ data, published by the Family Support Agency.

A key finding of the study indicates that children from one-parent families and cohabiting families fare the same as children from married families when faced with similarly difficult conditions growing up. This is most detailed statistical study to date of the effects of family structure on child development, and concludes that the traditionally perceived benefits of marriage in relation to child development are not a result of marriage itself but of the parent or parents’ background.

Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family, states: “This study confirms what One Family has known for years, based on our 41 years of experience working with one-parent families and our evidence-based knowledge, that it is not the legal structure of a family that is important to a child’s well-being but the substance of the family and the relationships within it. However, lone parents in Ireland continue to experience the highest rates of poverty and it is impoverishment that is proven to adversely affect a child’s future. We will continue in our vital work towards ending disadvantage for lone parents and their children.”

While the report also found that, despite controlling for school context and a variety of background factors, children from never-married one-parent families and cohabiting families did less well in their educational performance, it states that they are also more likely to be attending a disadvantaged – DEIS – school. Education and progression opportunities for parents are a core part of One Family’s work towards breaking the cycle of disadvantage.

The report ‘Growing Up in a One-Parent Family:The Influence of Family Structure on Child Outcomes’ is available to read/download here.

Notes for Editors:

  • 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family
  • Over half a million people live in one-parent families in Ireland
  • Almost 1 in 5 children (18.3%) live in a one-parent family (Census 2011)
  • There are over 215,000 one-parent families in Ireland today (25.8% of all families with children; Census 2011)
  • 87,586 of those are currently receiving the One-Parent Family Payment
  • Those living in lone parent households continue to experience the highest rates of deprivation with almost 56% of individuals from these households experiencing one or more forms of deprivation (EU-SILC 2011)

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 and is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to those working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services. These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 1890 622 212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today, with 10,000 people attending events this year on 19 May ( For further information, visit

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Further Information/Scheduling

Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 414 8511