Abstract

I examine trends in single mothers’ living arrangements using data from the 1970–1995 Current Population Surveys. I create a consistent trend by correcting a coding problem that stemmed from the misidentification of children living in multigenerational households before 1984. Revised estimates show that the number of single mothers in each of these years was undercounted by 200,000–300,000. All of these women were subfamily heads living with their parents, and the problem occurred disproportionately among teens and black women. The uncorrected trend falsely indicates a large increase in the share of single mothers living with their parents. In reality, there was little change in the percentage of single mothers living in this arrangement over the time period. However, the data indicate a large increase in the rate of cohabitation and a comparable decline in the rate of living independently among this population.

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