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Trends in poverty among sole parents

PovertyHow has it changed?

This graph displays the trends in poverty among sole parents, based on the 50% median income poverty line and as a percentage of all people in sole parent families, taking into account housing costs. It shows that sole parents had consistently higher poverty rates than the population-wide level throughout the period. The rate fluctuates in a ragged style, falling from 31% in 1999-00 to 25% in 2002-03, rising to 46% in 2007-08, falling to 26% in 2011-12, then rising again to 30% in 2016-17. This pattern can be partially explained by changes in median household incomes and housing costs for sole parents. The poverty rate among sole parents in income support households (relying primarily on either Parenting Payment or Newstart Allowance) followed a similar ragged pattern but at higher levels. This is due to a large number of sole parents living in income support households (varying between 53% of all sole parents in 1999-00 to 44% in 2015-16). Although these sole parents had lower incomes, their average housing costs rose more rapidly over the period than those of all sole parents.

The sharp rise in poverty among households with sole parents who were unemployed, from 35% in 2013-14 to 59% in 2015-16, is reflective of the transfer of approximately 80,000 unemployed sole parents from Parenting Payment Single to Newstart Allowance and other payments in 2013.

Find out more about why poverty among sole parents is so high, and how this can be addressed, on our causes and solutions page.

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