Mothers’ Unemployment Shown to Impact The Educational Attainment of Their Children

A new study by scholars at the California Center for Population Research at the University of California at Los Angeles finds that when single mothers lose theirs jobs, their children often suffer negative effects. Mothers who had been laid off for some period when their offspring were 17 years or younger had children who were 15 percent less likely to graduate from high school. They also were 24 percent less likely to attend college and 33 percent less likely to graduate from college than children whose mothers had never been laid off.

The negative effects of the mother’s job loss were greatest among older children. Children who were between 12 and 17 when the job loss occurred were 40 percent less likely to graduate from high school, 25 percent less likely to attend college, and 45 percent less likely to graduate from college, compared with children whose moms remained employed during that time.

Jennie E. Brand, associate professor of sociology at UCLA and lead author of the study stated, “The findings are alarming, and they suggest we should be doing more to ensure that these children don’t get lost in the shuffle. Through no fault of their own, they appear to be paying years down the line for their mothers’ employment issues.”

The study also found that children whose mothers had been laid off were more likely than other children to have symptoms of depression later in life.

“Our study shows that the children of displaced mothers struggle educationally and psychologically for many years afterward,” Dr. Brand said, “and thus are themselves more likely to suffer from employment instability.”

Dr. Brand is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The study, “Job Displacement Among Single Mothers: Effects on Children’s Outcomes in Young Adulthood,” was published in the American Journal of Sociology. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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