Single parent families – not always who you think

Glenn - The Census Expert

Glenn is our resident Census expert. After ten years working at the ABS, Glenn's deep knowledge of the Census has been a crucial input in the development of our community profiles. These tools help everyday people uncover the rich and important stories about our communities that are often hidden deep in the Census data. Glenn is also our most prolific blogger - if you're reading this, you've just finished reading one of his blogs. Take a quick look at the front page of our blog and you'll no doubt find more of Glenn's latest work. As a client manager, Glenn travels the country giving sought-after briefings to councils and communities (these are also great opportunities for Glenn to tend to his rankings in Geolocation games such as Munzee and Geocaching).

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5 Responses

  1. Hi Glenn, Is there any way you can go a little further and give a statistic on single-parent families with a child with a disability. This would be of great benefit to charities like myself who are raising funds to help children with disabilities. You can correct me if I am wrong, but I think the statistic is 70% of parents who have a child with disability end in divorce or separation.

  2. Nerrida says:

    As a single mum just looking to make sense of the Census, I really appreciate your insight. I’m 70 and a son in his 40s lives with me. So now I know there are about 30,000 other such households, how can I use this data?

  3. andrew says:

    there is alot of data missing here. i appreciate very much what you have done and according to your statistics, this should be correct so i trust you,lols.
    but… what about the single parents living with their parents and he/she has a child living with him. the grandson living at home so to speak.
    also what about the parents that have visitatoin – like court orders to see the kids – these people are single parents as well, are these single part time parents in your statistics – i dont think so!
    also what about child support as they pay child support. also the figure regarding the income of single parents being $974, is not statistically correct. what about child support being taken out and given to the other parent, which child suport is another story on its own.
    i am not sure i completley understand this report. does it include what i have raised???
    so i think this needs to be expanded to be more real, but you done a very good job delivering these stastistics. cheers

    • Thanks Andrew,

      Unfortunately the Census can only tell us so much, but still provides some very interesting insights.

      The first case you mention would be coded in the Census as a 2-family household, where the primary family is a couple without children, and the second family is a single parent family. So it would be counted when counting families, though most of .id’s products only show the primary family. Multi-family households only comprise 2.6% of all family households, so they are not a major trend nationwide.

      For parents with visitation rights – the child is recorded on the Census where they stay that night, but their usual address is also recorded so they are taken back to their usual residence for most datasets. There is a difficulty where a child spends aproximately equal time with either parent – technically this would be a dual usual residence, and it’s not well recorded in the Census, only one of the households will be recorded as having the child. There has been talk about adding the option to nominate multiple residences to the next Census but I don’t think it got through the consultation process.

      And finally, child support is a payment made after income is received. So, like taxes, it is included in the income earner’s income (though it depends how people answer the question, as with many Census questions). So the Census doesn’t record sources of income and we can’t see how much child support is transferred.

      There is certainly some more research that could be done to understand single parent families.


  1. January 14, 2020

    […] to population experts at ID, single parent families are among the most socio-economically disadvantaged groups in […]

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