Volume 36 - Article 61 | Pages 1859–1888  

The change in single mothers’ educational gradient over time in Spain

By Anna Garriga, Clara Cortina

This article is part of the Special Collection 21 "Separation, Divorce, Repartnering, and Remarriage around the World"


Background: Family structures changed enormously during the latter decades of the 20th century, with the diffusion of less-common family forms, especially among low-educated women. Previous research suggests that in Spain these changes have taken place in a very short period of time.

Objective: The aim of this paper is, specifically, to analyse the educational gradient of single-mother families and its evolution in recent decades, focusing on age differences.

Methods: We use the 1991, 2001, and 2011 Spanish population censuses and apply logistic regression analysis. Our investigation focuses on non-widowed mothers with children under 18.

Results: Results show how the educational gradient of single motherhood reversed between 1991 and 2011. Our analyses reveal differences by age. While mothers younger than 30 present a consistent and even increasingly negative educational gradient across the whole period, the reversal applies to older mothers. It is this reversal that has resulted in changing a positive to a negative or neutral educational gradient.

Conclusions: The diversification of educational profiles of Spanish mothers’ family structures is a process that is here to stay.

Contribution: The article contributes to understanding the consequences of the diversification of family structures in the context of an economic crisis in which education is becoming increasingly important in determining mothers’ and children’s opportunities.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Mixed marriages between immigrants and natives in Spain: The gendered effect of marriage market constraints
Volume 39 - Article 1

Change and continuity in the fertility of unpartnered women in Latin America, 1980–2010
Volume 38 - Article 51

The contributions of childbearing within marriage and within consensual union to fertility in Latin America, 1980-2010
Volume 34 - Article 29

Mother’s educational level and single motherhood: Comparing Spain and Italy
Volume 33 - Article 42

Changes in educational assortative mating in contemporary Spain
Volume 14 - Article 17

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

The importance of education for understanding variability of dementia onset in the United States
Volume 50 - Article 26    | Keywords: dementia, education, lifespan variability, modal age, morbidity compression

Losing the female survival advantage: Sex differentials in infant and child mortality in Pakistan
Volume 50 - Article 15    | Keywords: child mortality, family, gender discrimination, Pakistan, sex differentials, son preference, South Asia, survival analysis

Measuring the educational gradient of period fertility in 28 European countries: A new approach based on parity-specific fertility estimates
Volume 49 - Article 34    | Keywords: education, Europe, period fertility, quantum, tempo, total fertility rate (TFR)

A Bayesian model for the reconstruction of education- and age-specific fertility rates: An application to African and Latin American countries
Volume 49 - Article 31    | Keywords: age, Bayesian analysis, education, fertility estimation, fertility rates

Partnership satisfaction in Czechia during the COVID-19 pandemic
Volume 49 - Article 24    | Keywords: COVID-19, family, pandemic, partnership, separation