The Triple Bind of Single-Parent Families: Resources, employment and policies to improve well-being

Single parents face a triple bind of inadequate resources, employment, and policies, which in combination further complicate their lives. The Triple Bind of Single-Parent Families: Resources, employment and policies to improve well-being – multi-disciplinary and comparative in design – shows evidence from over 40 countries, along with detailed case studies of Sweden, Iceland, Scotland, and the UK. It covers aspects of wellbeing that include poverty, good quality jobs, the middle class, wealth, health, children’s development and performance in school, and reflects on social justice.

Leading international scholars challenge our current understanding of what works and draw policy lessons on how to improve the wellbeing of single parents and their children.

The Triple Bind of Single-Parent Families is edited by Rense Nieuwenhuis and Laurie C. Maldonado, and published by Policy Press. The book is available open acces.

Triple Bind Cover


  • Off Kilter Podcast: The U.S. has long demonized single parents – and especially single moms – like nowhere else in the western world. A new global anthology of research on treatment of families and single parents called The Triple Bind of Single-Parent Families offers a damning critique not of single moms, but of how the U.S. is hanging them, and their families, out to dry.
  • Social Europe Blog: Single Parents In A Gendered Triple Bind
  • New Books in Sociology Podcast

Table of Contents

  1. The Triple Bind of Single-Parent Families: resources, employment, and policies ~ Rense Nieuwenhuis, Laurie C. Maldonado;
  2. Single-mother poverty: how much do educational differences in single motherhood matter? ~ Juho Härkönen;
  3. The “wealth-being” of single parents ~ Eva Sierminska;
  4. Income poverty, material deprivation and lone parenthood ~ Morag Treanor;
  5. Single motherhood and child development in the UK ~ Susan Harkness, Mariña Fernández Salgado;
  6. Single parenthood and children’s educational performance: inequalities among families and schools ~ Marloes de Lange, Jaap Dronkers;
  7. Wellbeing among children with single parents in Sweden –focusing on shared residence ~ Emma Fransson, Sara Brolin Låftman, Viveca Östberg, Malin Bergström;
  8. A life course approach to single mothers’ economic wellbeing in different welfare states ~ Hannah Zagel, Sabine Hübgen;
  9. Doesn’t anyone else care? Variation in poverty among working single parents across Europe ~ Jeroen Horemans, Ive Marx;
  10. Middle-class single parents ~ Young-hwan Byun;
  11. Does the use of reconciliation policies enable single mothers to work? A comparative examination of European countries ~ Wim van Lancker;
  12. Whose days are left? Separated parents’ use of parental leave in Sweden ~ Ann-Zofie Duvander, Nicklas Korsell;
  13. Matched on job qualities? Single and coupled parents in European comparison. ~ Ingrid Esser, Karen M. Olsen;
  14. The health penalty of single parents in institutional context ~ Rense Nieuwenhuis, Anne Grete Tøge, Joakim Palme;
  15. Cash benefits and poverty in single-parent families ~ Jonathan Bradshaw, Antonia Keung, Yekaterina Chzhen;
  16. The role of universal and targeted family benefits in reducing poverty in single-parent families ~ Ann Morissens;
  17. Policies and practices for single parents in Iceland ~ Guðný Björk Eydal;
  18. The structural nature of the inadequate social floor for single-parent families ~ Bea Cantillon, Diego Collado, Natascha Van Mechelen;
  19. Social Justice, Single Parents and their Children ~ Gideon Calder;
  20. The Socio-Economics of Single Parenthood: Reflections on The Triple Bind ~ Janet C. Gornick;
  21. Conclusion ~ Laurie C. Maldonado, Rense Nieuwenhuis.