Health risks appear to be greatest for single mothers in later life. Single motherhood is associated with an increased risk of multiple health problems, including adverse cardiovascular episodes, poor mental health and increased mortality.
Women who have been single mothers for any period are more at risk of physical disability and poor health in later life in comparison with women who have raised children with a partner. This association is greatest among single mothers in the US, England, Denmark and Sweden. The existence of strong social support in certain countries may explain why the associations are not as strong in some geographic regions. In regions such as Southern Europe, the cultural emphasis placed on family solidarity means that single motherhood is not associated with any increased health risks.
- Those who become single mothers before the age of 20
- Those who become single mothers through divorce
- Those who are single mothers for 8 or more years
- Those who raise two or more children.