[Editor:] Bernardi, Laura [Editor:] Mortelmans, Dimitri [Title:] Lone Parenthood in the Life Course [ISBN:] 978-3-319-63295-7 [Series:] Life Course Research and Social Policies [No.:] 8 [Place:] Cham [Publisher:] Springer International Publishing [Year:] 2018 [Pages:] 167-189
Over the last 10 years at-risk-of-poverty rates across Europe have been rather stable or rising only slightly. However, certain demographic groups face comparatively high poverty risks. Lone mothers belong usually to the most affected groups by income poverty – but variations are striking. Though, still little research has been done for explaining this vast variation across Europe. It is argued that institutional arrangements in the labor market and the welfare state shaped by existing gender inequalities have an impact on lone mothers’ poverty risks. For instance, in countries where women’s access to (full time) paid work is low and/or the gender pay gap is high, lone mothers are particularly disadvantaged due to the absent (male) partner. Furthermore, the lack of public childcare and a gendered eligibility to social benefits aggravate lone mothers’ poverty risk. I also hypothesize that gendered institutional arrangements mediate the effect of individual characteristics on lone mothers’ poverty risks – namely the poverty-reducing effect of employment and the poverty-enhancing effect of children. To prove these hypotheses empirically, I compare 25 European countries running several multi-level models based on pooled EU-SILC data (2009–2012). Results show that existing gender inequalities – particularly the access to full time employment for women and gender-specific welfare eligibility – indeed account for country differences in the level of lone mothers’ poverty risk. Furthermore, there is empirical evidence that gender inequalities in the labor market shape the poverty-reducing effect of full time employment. Other specific mechanisms modeled in form of cross-level interactions cannot be supported by the data.