Leaving lone parenthood: analysis of the repartnering patterns of lone mothers in the U.K.

Skew, Alexandra Jane (2009) Leaving lone parenthood: analysis of the repartnering patterns of lone mothers in the U.K. University of Southampton, School of Social Sciences, Doctoral Thesis , 303pp.


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Despite a wealth of research in the U.K. on the stock of lone parents, in recent years there has
been a lack of research on the dynamics of lone parenthood, particularly leaving lone
parenthood. In an attempt to fill this gap, this thesis provides a detailed study of repartnering
patterns of lone mothers in the U.K. This study uses the first 14 waves of the British
Household Panel Survey (BHPS), a nationally representative survey conducted annually which
interviews every adult member of a sample of around 5,000 households amounting to around
10,000 individual interviews. This data is particularly advantageous for this study due to its
prospective longitudinal nature, allowing lone mothers to be captured at the point of entry into
lone motherhood and their repartnering patterns to be analysed over subsequent waves. In
addition the data enabled the construction of marital and cohabitation histories for lone
mothers in order to control for any effect of prior union history on the probability of

Employing discrete time event history analysis techniques, the first part of this research
examines repartnering among two distinct groups of lone mothers; those entering through the
breakdown of a cohabiting or marital union and those entering through the birth of a child
whilst single and never-married. Of particular interest is the effect of these different routes of
entry into lone motherhood on the timing and determinants of repartnering and the types of
new unions formed. The second part of the study seeks to identify if repartnering is associated
with improved well-being for lone mothers. Using a series of pooled logistic regression models
this thesis explores the association of repartnering with transitions in three domains: economic,
demographic and health.

Amongst those entering lone motherhood through the breakdown of a previous partnership the
most important determinant of repartnering is found to be age at entry into lone motherhood.
However, the economic situation of a lone mother, in particular whether or not she was
receiving Income Support, has a much stronger influence on repartnering among single never
married lone mothers than age. The duration of lone motherhood is found to be similar for both
types of lone mother, -estimated at around five years, however controlling for a number of
demographic and socio-economic factors suggests the probability of repartnering is lower for
those entering through the breakdown of a cohabitation compared with those entering through
the dissolution of a marriage. There appears to be a preference for cohabitation over marriage
with nearly three quarters of those who repartnered moving into a cohabiting union. However,
the higher chance of moving into a marriage for those who were previously married appears to
result from a high proportion reconciling with a former partner.

Examining the relationship between repartnering and other transitions occurring in three
domains reveals that repartnering is likely to occur against a backdrop of other changes.
Repartnering is strongly associated with an improvement in financial situation, residential
mobility and an increase in the number of resident dependent children. Although no direct link
is found between repartnering and improved mental health outcomes, the strong association
between improved financial well-being and an improvement in mental health indicates
repartnering may be indirectly related to better mental health. However, the finding of a direct
association between poorer mental health and repartnering warrants further investigation

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Social Sciences > Social Statistics
ePrint ID: 72373
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
January 2009Made publicly available
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2010
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2014 18:51
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/72373

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