Poverty and union formation among never-married single mothers in the Netherlands, 1989-2005

Using panel data from Dutch tax records linked to the municipality registry, we investigate how the partner status of never-married single mothers changes in the years after the birth of their first child. To explore a possible accumulation of financial problems, we study the effects of income on the chances of entering a marital or cohabiting union. We also examine the effects of finding a partner on income for never-married single mothers. Finding a partner substantially improves income. We find that about half of the never-married single mothers marry or start cohabiting within 10 years of the first birth, but that these are usually mothers with average and higher incomes. Not only are never-married single mothers more likely to be poor at the time of first birth, the poor are also more likely to remain single. There seems to be an accumulation of disadvantage in this special group in Dutch society.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.


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