This chapter uses an ethnographic and life history approach to highlight how the choices of lone parents are shaped by the interaction between social policies, labour markets, and family structures; their assessment of labour market and training opportunities; and the social support networks that they are able to draw upon. It notes that lone-parent families have been a recurrent topic of public debate in Britain in the context of significant changes in family structure and the challenges to social policy that such changes pose. It observes that studies have consistently demonstrated that lone-parent status has major economic consequences and the growth of such households constitutes an increasingly prominent, and largely gendered, aspect of social exclusion. It adds that for a large proportion of lone parents across the EU their status is a strong indicator of poverty and disadvantage.
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