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The children of single mums who work are less likely to suffer severe socio-emotional issues than those whose mothers do not work, according to a new study.
Young children of working single mums are less at risk of having severe socio-emotional problems than those whose mums do not work, according to new research from Scotland.
The study of three to five year olds by Francesca Fiori from the University of Edinburgh shows the prevalence of severe mental health problems among children living with a single mother at age 3 is 12.4%, much higher than the average of 5.8%. However, the predicted probability of severe socio-emotional symptoms is just below 5 percent for children of working single mums compared to 15 percent for children of single mothers who are not in employment.
The study finds that working benefits the socio-emotional wellbeing of the children of single mums in all cases except if the mum works for less than 16 hours a week. Work is particularly beneficial for mums who work full time or in middle or high status jobs – these have the same level of socio-emotional problems as children growing up in two-parent families.
The study says this beneficial effect is due to decreased levels of poverty, the fact that working mums have significantly better mental health than non-working mothers. However, it says mums who have insecure, low paid jobs report worse mental health and financial problems.
Another factor is availability of good quality childcare. The study says children of working single mothers who attend formal centre-based fare relatively better than those who rely on other childcare arrangements, such as grandparents.
The study recommends more emphasis on good quality jobs and childcare for single parents.