One child in four in single-parent homeBRONWYN TORRIE
New Zealand has the third-highest rate of children living in single-parent homes, an OECD study says.
This means nearly one in four Kiwi children are growing up in single-parent homes as more marriages break up and single women choose to enter motherhood on their own.
Of 27 industrialised countries, New Zealand ranked third in the Doing Better for Families study, with 23.7 per cent of children living in a one-parent household, compared with the 14.9 per cent average across all countries. The United States ranked first with 25.9 per cent and Ireland was second with 24.3 per cent.
Children's Commissioner John Angus said Kiwi children were four times more likely to be living under the poverty line if they were being raised by a single parent.
New Zealand's child poverty rate, at 12.2 per cent, is nearly on a par with the OECD average. Child poverty includes going hungry and living in poor housing that can lead to poor health.
At the end of March, 113,000 people were receiving a domestic purposes benefit, of whom 88 per cent were women.
The OECD said New Zealand could do more to support sole parents into fulltime work through the provision of quality childcare. Social Development Minister Paula Bennett, herself a single mother, said the Government was focusing on this.
"No parent wants their child to spend a life in poverty, but the fact is that children whose parents are working have more opportunities and better health and education than those from benefit-dependent households."
Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said children raised by married parents were able to provide the best opportunities for children. "We've tried to delude ourselves that family structure doesn't make a difference, but it does."
Meanwhile, more single professional women were choosing to become mothers using sperm donors because of increased fears about their biological clock ticking, Fertility Associates Wellington medical director Andrew Murray said. "Anecdotally, I would say that there is an increased number of women at least looking at the option of starting a family on their own."
The introduction two years ago of a test measuring women's egg reserves had prompted at least three Wellington women a month to investigate single motherhood, Dr Murray said.
Birthright national manager John Donaghy said there were about 219,000 single-parent families in New Zealand, most of whom were middle-aged.
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