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More and More Children Grow up with Single Parents

Chart of the Month – May 2017

The number of minor children growing up with only one parent has significantly increased in recent years. Whilst in 1996 there were approx. 1.9 million, there are already 2.3 million minor children living in a single-parent family today. Thus, the percentage of children living with single parents has meanwhile risen to almost 18%, which has been calculated by the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB) in Wiesbaden on the basis of the German Microcensus.

However, there are significant regional differences within Germany. In West Germany, the percentage has risen from 10.7% in 1996 to 16.3% in 2015, in East Germany there has been an increase in the same period from 16.0% to 24.9%. This means that in East Germany one minor child in four grows up with a single parent, while in West Germany about one child in six is affected.

And there is another difference: In West Germany, the major part of single parents is divorced, whereas in East Germany they are predominantly unmarried. “This is mainly due to the fact that in East Germany the birth of a child is less strongly associated with marriage than in the West.”, Dr. Evelyn Grünheid (BiB) explains.

Being a single parent is in both the East and in the West usually a passing phase, and in many cases a phase within the life course which results in a relationship again. Moreover, researchers at the BiB assume that about one third of persons who are considered as single parents according to statistics have a partner, however, without sharing a common household.

The picture shows a line chart which illustrates the percentage of minor children growing up with single parents in Eastern and Western Germany from 1996 until 2015. Percentage of Minor Children Growing up with Single Parents

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© Federal Institute for Population Research - 2018