Jennifer Shore
Singled Out or Drawn In? Social Polices and Lone Mothers’ Political Engagement

Politics & Gender, 2020: 16, issue 2, pp. 471-497
ISSN: 1743-923X (print); 1743-9248 (online)

Although it is no longer a symbol of socially degenerate behavior in many societies, single motherhood remains associated with numerous risks and disadvantages. In addition to their disadvantages in the labor market and their greater risk of poverty, single mothers also tend to be less politically active. This article explores the patterns of single mothers’ electoral participation across 25 European countries. In addition to the individual-level characteristics that shape the likelihood of taking part in an election, public policies can also do a great deal to encourage political involvement. Drawing on data from the European Social Survey combined with national family and labor market policies, I examine the ways in which policies aiming to reconcile the responsibilities at work and home can draw single mothers into political engagement. I find that early childhood expenditures and cash benefits to families are positively related to single mothers’ political participation.