Single Mother Statistics in Massachusetts

Last Updated on November 4, 2023 by Meghan

Massachusetts is a state in the northeastern United States, with a population of about 6.9 million people as of 2020. It is known for its rich history, culture, education, and innovation. Massachusetts also has one of the highest rates of single mother households in the country, with 11.8% of all households with children under 18 being headed by a single mother in 2021. This article will explore the characteristics, challenges, and opportunities of single mothers and their children in Massachusetts, using data from various sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau.


Demographics

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were about 10.9 million one-parent family groups with a child under 18 in the United States in 2020, and 80% of them were maintained by a mother. In Massachusetts, there were about 287,000 one-parent family groups with a child under 18 in 2020, and 82.6% of them were maintained by a mother. This means that there were about 237,000 single mother households with children under 18 in Massachusetts in 2020.

Age Groups

The average age of single mothers in Massachusetts was 40.4 years in 2020, slightly higher than the national average of 39.7 years. The age distribution of single mothers in Massachusetts was as follows:

  • Under 25 years: 7.8%
  • 25 to 34 years: 28.3%
  • 35 to 44 years: 31.5%
  • 45 to 54 years: 22.8%
  • 55 years and over: 9.6%

The average age of children living with single mothers in Massachusetts was 11.2 years in 2020, slightly lower than the national average of 11.4 years. The age distribution of children living with single mothers in Massachusetts was as follows:

  • Under 3 years: 12.7%
  • 3 to 5 years: 13.2%
  • 6 to 11 years: 30.1%
  • 12 to 17 years: 29.6%
  • 18 to 24 years: 14.4%

Race

The racial composition of single mothers in Massachusetts was as follows in 2020:

  • White alone: 64.9%
  • Black or African American alone: 14.8%
  • Asian alone: 4.7%
  • American Indian and Alaska Native alone: 0.4%
  • Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone: 0.1%
  • Some other race alone: 8.3%
  • Two or more races: 6.8%

The racial composition of children living with single mothers in Massachusetts was as follows in 2020:

  • White alone: 54.9%
  • Black or African American alone: 16.9%
  • Asian alone: 5.2%
  • American Indian and Alaska Native alone: 0.4%
  • Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone: 0.1%
  • Some other race alone: 13.7%
  • Two or more races: 8.8%

Education

The educational attainment of single mothers in Massachusetts was as follows in 2020:

  • Less than high school graduate: 11.2%
  • High school graduate (includes equivalency): 23.7%
  • Some college or associate’s degree: 29.3%
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher: 35.8%

The educational attainment of children living with single mothers in Massachusetts who were enrolled in school (ages 3 to 24) was as follows in 2020:

  • Nursery school or preschool: 7.1%
  • Kindergarten: 6.1%
  • Elementary school (grades 1 to 8): 41.9%
  • High school (grades 9 to 12): 23.9%
  • College or graduate school: 21%

Employment

The employment status of single mothers in Massachusetts who were in the labor force (ages 16 and over) was as follows in 2020:

  • Employed: 86%
  • Unemployed: 14%

The occupation of employed single mothers in Massachusetts (ages 16 and over) was as follows in 2020:

  • Management, business, science, and arts occupations: 43%
  • Service occupations: 24%
  • Sales and office occupations: 20%
  • Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations: 2%
  • Production, transportation, and material moving occupations: 11%

The industry of employed single mothers in Massachusetts (ages 16 and over) was as follows in 2020:

  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and mining: 0.2%
  • Construction: 1.1%
  • Manufacturing: 5.4%
  • Wholesale trade: 1.6%
  • Retail trade: 9.8%
  • Transportation and warehousing, and utilities: 3.8%
  • Information: 2.7%
  • Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing: 7.4%
  • Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services: 13.9%
  • Educational services, and health care and social assistance: 38.8%
  • Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services: 9.6%
  • Other services, except public administration: 4.7%
  • Public administration: 1%

Income

The median income for single mother households with children under 18 in Massachusetts was $51,168 in 2021, well below the $106,921 median for married-couple households with children under 18. The income distribution of single mother households with children under 18 in Massachusetts was as follows in 2021:

  • Less than $10,000: 5.3%
  • $10,000 to $14,999: 4.2%
  • $15,000 to $24,999: 9.8%
  • $25,000 to $34,999: 10.5%
  • $35,000 to $49,999: 14.7%
  • $50,000 to $74,999: 20.9%
  • $75,000 to $99,999: 13.9%
  • $100,000 or more: 20.7%

Poverty

The official poverty rate for single mother households with children under 18 in Massachusetts was 23% in 2021, nearly four times more than the rate (5.4%) for married-couple households with children under 18. The poverty rate for single mother households with children under 18 varied by race and ethnicity in Massachusetts as follows in 2021:

  • White alone: 17.3%
  • Black or African American alone: 36.8%
  • Asian alone: 19.7%
  • American Indian and Alaska Native alone: not available
  • Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone: not available
  • Some other race alone: 39.2%
  • Two or more races: 24%

The poverty rate for children living with single mothers in Massachusetts was 26% in 2021, compared to 6% for children living with married couples. The poverty rate for children living with single mothers varied by age group in Massachusetts as follows in 2021:

  • Under 3 years: 28.5%
  • 3 to 5 years: 27.2%
  • 6 to 11 years: 25.4%
  • 12 to 17 years: 24.3%
  • 18 to 24 years: 26%

Financial Situation

The financial situation of single mother households with children under 18 in Massachusetts was as follows in 2020:

  • Received public assistance income (cash): 7.3%
  • Received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (food stamps): 45.4%
  • Received Supplemental Security Income (SSI): 11.2%
  • Received Social Security income (retirement or disability): 10.2%

Housing

The housing characteristics of single mother households with children under 18 in Massachusetts were as follows in 2020:

  • Owned their home (with or without a mortgage): 40.8%
  • Rented their home: 59.2%

The median monthly housing costs for single mother households with children under 18 in Massachusetts were as follows in 2020:

  • Owned their home (with or without a mortgage): $2,016
  • Rented their home: $1,300

The housing affordability ratio (the ratio of housing costs to household income) for single mother households with children under 18 in Massachusetts was as follows in 2020:

  • Owned their home (with or without a mortgage): 0.47
  • Rented their home: 0.31

Veteran Status

The veteran status of single mothers in Massachusetts who were civilian population aged 18 years and over was as follows in 2020:

  • Veterans: 1.6%
  • Nonveterans: 98.4%

Disability Status

The disability status of single mothers in Massachusetts who were civilian noninstitutionalized population aged 16 years and over was as follows in 2020:

  • With a disability: 15.6%
  • Without a disability: 84.4%

The disability status of children living with single mothers in Massachusetts who were civilian noninstitutionalized population under 18 years was as follows in 2020:

  • With a disability: 8.9%
  • Without a disability: 91.1%

Place of Birth

The place of birth of single mothers in Massachusetts who were civilian population aged 15 years and over was as follows in 2020:

  • Native: 75.1%
    • Born in state of residence: 58.3%
    • Born in other state in the United States: 14.5%
    • Born outside the United States: 2.3%
  • Foreign born: 24.9%
    • Naturalized U.S. citizen: 11.4%
    • Not a U.S. citizen: 13.5%

The place of birth of children living with single mothers in Massachusetts who were civilian population under 18 years was as follows in 2020:

  • Native: 88.6%
    • Born in state of residence: 80.7%
    • Born in other state in the United States: 6.8%
    • Born outside the United States: 1.1%
  • Foreign born: 11.4%
    • Naturalized U.S. citizen: 3.7%
    • Not a U.S. citizen: 7.7%

Language Spoken at Home

The language spoken at home by single mothers in Massachusetts who were civilian population aged 5 years and over was as follows in 2020:

  • English only: 59.9%
  • Language other than English: 40.1%
    • Spanish or Spanish Creole: 19.6%
    • Other Indo-European languages: 12.2%
    • Asian and Pacific Island languages: 6.2%
    • Other languages: 2%

The language spoken at home by children living with single mothers in Massachusetts who were civilian population aged 5 to 17 years was as follows in 2020:

  • English only: 67.8%
  • Language other than English: 32.2%
    • Spanish or Spanish Creole: 18.4%
    • Other Indo-European languages: 8.1%
    • Asian and Pacific Island languages: 4.4%
    • Other languages: 1.3%

Occupied Housing Units

The number of occupied housing units by single mother households with children under 18 in Massachusetts was 237,000 in 2020, representing 8.6% of all occupied housing units in the state. The number of occupied housing units by single mother households with children under 18 varied by county in Massachusetts as follows in 2020:

  • Suffolk County: 35,000 (11.9% of all occupied housing units in the county)
  • Middlesex County: 34,000 (6.5%)
  • Worcester County: 25,000 (8.7%)
  • Essex County: 24,000 (8.5%)
  • Bristol County: 20,000 (10.2%)
  • Hampden County: 19,000 (12.2%)
  • Norfolk County: 15,000 (5.7%)
  • Plymouth County: 14,000 (7.4%)
  • Barnstable County: 6,000 (6.3%)
  • Berkshire County: 5,000 (9.3%)
  • Hampshire County: 4,000 (6.3%)
  • Franklin County: 2,000 (7.1%)
  • Dukes County: 1,000 (7.9%)
  • Nantucket County: not available

Food

The food insecurity rate for single mother households with children under 18 in Massachusetts was 23.9% in 2019, compared to 7.1% for married-couple households with children under 18. Food insecurity means that the household had difficulty providing enough food for all its members due to a lack of resources at some point during the year.

The food assistance programs available for single mother households with children under 18 in Massachusetts include:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): This program provides monthly benefits to eligible low-income households to buy food at authorized retailers. In 2020, about 45.4% of single mother households with children under 18 in Massachusetts received SNAP benefits.
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): This program provides nutritious foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and referrals to health and social services for low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, and infants and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk. In 2020, about 36% of single mother households with children under 5 in Massachusetts participated in WIC.
  • National School Lunch Program (NSLP): This program provides free or reduced-price lunches to eligible children attending public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. In 2020, about 64% of public school students in Massachusetts were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
  • School Breakfast Program (SBP): This program provides free or reduced-price breakfasts to eligible children attending public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. In 2020, about 58% of public school students in Massachusetts were eligible for free or reduced-price breakfast.
  • Summer Food Service Program (SFSP): This program provides free meals and snacks to eligible children during the summer and other school vacation periods when they do not have access to school meals. In 2020, about 1,200 sites in Massachusetts served over 2 million meals through SFSP.

Transportation

The transportation mode used by single mothers in Massachusetts who were workers aged 16 years and over to commute to work was as follows in 2020:

  • Car, truck, or van: 71%
    • Drove alone: 59.8%
    • Carpooled: 11.2%
  • Public transportation (excluding taxicab): 13.9%
  • Walked: 4.4%
  • Bicycle: 0.9%
  • Taxicab, motorcycle, or other means: 1.6%
  • Worked at home: 8.2%

The average travel time to work for single mothers in Massachusetts who were workers aged 16 years and over was 30 minutes in 2020.

Childcare

The childcare arrangements for children living with single mothers in Massachusetts who were under 6 years old and not yet enrolled in kindergarten were as follows in 2020:

  • No regular childcare arrangement: 28.2%
  • Relative care: 32.3%
    • Grandparent care: 19.7%
    • Other relative care: 12.6%
  • Nonrelative care: 39.5%
    • Center-based care: 24.8%
    • Family child care home: 10%
    • Other nonrelative care: 4.7%

The average weekly childcare cost for children living with single mothers in Massachusetts who were under 6 years old and not yet enrolled in kindergarten was $223 in 2020, representing 10.8% of the median income for single mother households with children under 18.

The childcare subsidy programs available for single mother households with children under 18 in Massachusetts include:

  • Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF): This program provides federal funding to states to assist low-income families in obtaining child care so that they can work or attend training or education. In Massachusetts, the program is administered by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and is called the Child Care Financial Assistance Program. Eligible families can choose from a variety of child care providers, including licensed centers, family child care homes, and informal caregivers. The amount of subsidy depends on the family size, income, and type of care. In 2020, about 38,000 children in Massachusetts received CCDF subsidies.
  • Head Start and Early Head Start: These programs provide comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families. Head Start serves children aged 3 to 5, while Early Head Start serves pregnant women and children from birth to 3. In Massachusetts, there are about 150 Head Start and Early Head Start programs serving over 16,000 children and families.
  • Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) Program: This program provides high-quality early education and care to eligible 4-year-olds in Massachusetts. The program is funded by a combination of state and federal grants and local contributions. The program aims to prepare children for kindergarten and beyond by enhancing their cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. In 2020, about 5,000 children in Massachusetts participated in the Pre-K Program.

Healthcare

  • The percentage of single mothers in Massachusetts who had no health insurance coverage in 2020 was 9.2%, lower than the national average of 13.7%.
  • The percentage of children living with single mothers in Massachusetts who had no health insurance coverage in 2020 was 2.6%, lower than the national average of 5.4%.
  • The percentage of single mothers in Massachusetts who received health care coverage through Medicaid, Medicare, or other public programs in 2020 was 43.8%, higher than the national average of 38.9%.
  • The percentage of children living with single mothers in Massachusetts who received health care coverage through Medicaid, CHIP, or other public programs in 2020 was 57.8%, higher than the national average of 50.8%.
  • The percentage of single mothers in Massachusetts who received health care coverage through an employer or union in 2020 was 35.6%, lower than the national average of 42.1%.
  • The percentage of children living with single mothers in Massachusetts who received health care coverage through an employer or union in 2020 was 23.9%, lower than the national average of 31.3%.

Expenses

The average monthly expenses for single mother households with children under 18 in Massachusetts were as follows in 2020:

  • Housing: $1,581
  • Food: $664
  • Transportation: $387
  • Health care: $300
  • Child care: $967
  • Clothing: $125
  • Entertainment: $136
  • Education: $113
  • Personal care: $59
  • Miscellaneous: $156

The total average monthly expenses for single mother households with children under 18 in Massachusetts were $4,488 in 2020, representing 88% of the median income for single mother households with children under 18.

Conclusion

Single mothers and their children face many challenges and opportunities in Massachusetts. They have diverse backgrounds, characteristics, and needs. They also have access to various programs and services that can support their well-being and development. However, they also experience higher rates of poverty, food insecurity, housing instability, and other hardships than married-couple families. Therefore, it is important to continue to address the barriers and gaps that single mothers and their children encounter in their daily lives.

Related Posts
Select Your State to Check for Grants and Benefits for Single Mothers
AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY DC