Living Arrangements among Single Mothers in India

Pushpanjali Swain, Vijayan K. Pillai


A large proportion of two parent households transition into single parent
households upon marital disruption. Single parent households, especially female headed households face an increase in the risk of poverty. This study focuses on whether widow status in India influences the likelihood of household headship in India. This study is based on the most recent National Family Health Survey 1998-1999, in India. The population of interest includes all mothers aged 15 to 49 years, without a spouse, living with one or more of their own children under 18 years of age. We find that being a widow increases the likelihood of being a household head compared to the likelihood of household headship among the divorced and the separated in India. This study provides some evidence on the continuing social discrimination against widows in India. The implication of the findings are discussed.

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