Elisabetta Ruspini
Living on the Poverty Line. Lone Mothers in Belgium, Germany, Great Britan, Italy and Sweden

Arbeitsbereich I; 28
ISSN: 0948-0072

The paper focuses on the circumstances that explain lone mothers' dynamics of poverty in five different European settings (Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and Sweden) using household panel data. My aim is to tackle the problem of poverty comparatively, dynamically, and with a gender perspective.
This paper attempts to answer questions such as: "How do lone mothers experience poverty? Are poverty spells for lone mothers longer? Do poverty spells differ within different groups of lone mothers (never married, separated, divorced, widowed)? Is the probability of suffering recurrent or chronic poverty higher for lone mothers than for other groups? Do lone mothers' poverty spells differ among different welfare systems?".
What comes out of this analysis is that lone mothers - especially if heads of household - are at greater risk of poverty in comparison with married/cohabiting mothers in all settings taken into consideration.
It also seems that lone mothers' low poverty rates are to be found either in countries where the sheltering capacity of family and kin is strong or where family policies allow the combination of care tasks and participation in the labour force. Lone mothers' poverty is a very complex phenomenon since female poverty risks are strongly connected to the close interaction of the gendered processes in the labour market, domestic circumstances and welfare systems that can substantially vary from one country to the next.
Finally, poverty among lone mothers is not a static condition.