An international comparison of the impact of child benefits on poverty outcomes for single mothersAn international comparison of the impact of child benefits on poverty outcomes for single mothers
Faculty of Social Sciences. Sociology
Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy
Antwerpen , 2012[*]2012
CSB working paper/University of Antwerp, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy ; 12/03
University of Antwerp
Single mothers are vulnerable to living in poverty in contemporary European societies, which translates into economic dependency and threatens womens capacity to form autonomous households. Given their difficulties to engage in paid employment in a context of increasing dual earnership, the question how to safeguard the economic status of single mothers is a crucial one. In this article we address this issue by focusing on child benefits and exploring their impact on the poverty risk of single mothers in 15 European countries. In doing so, we combine two methodological traditions and devote specific attention to the design of child benefit systems in Europe which adds to the universality versus targeting-debate. We find that child benefits play a major role in complementing the household income of single mothers but that the poverty-reducing impact differs greatly between countries, depending on the generosity and the design of the benefit system. We also find that designing a single mother-friendly child benefit system does not necessarily come at a great cost. Our results demonstrate that a welldesigned child benefit system has the potential to play a crucial role in strengthening womens autonomy.