by Nigel Barber, Ph.D. | psychologytoday.com
Throughout Europe, births to single mothers more than doubled between 1990 and 2010 (from 17.4 to 38.3 percent, 1). Imagine if it were to increase at the same rate for the next two decades! Such rapid changes are very unusual historically. They cry out for explanation from social scientists.
This steep rise in single parenthood is found in most developed countries, including the U.S. Here, single parenthood increased from around 5.3 percent in 1960 to 41 percent in 2009 (2).
The surge in single parenthood in Europe
Change was even more rapid in some European countries. Births outside marriage increased by a factor of 21 in Ireland between 1960 and 2011 (from 1.6 to 33.7 percent, 1) and a factor of 23 in Belgium (from 2.1 to 49.2 percent). These are not the most rapid growth rates either. Single parenthood increased by a factor of 32 in the Netherlands (1.4 to 45.3 percent) and Malta (0.7 to 22.7 percent).