More kids living with single dads

Increasing numbers of children in Sweden are growing up with single fathers, new figures have revealed. Single father families also generally have fewer financial worries than single mother households, according to Statistics Sweden.

In 2006, 334,000 children lived with single mothers, while 71,000 children shared a home with single dads. This can be contrasted with figures from 1999, when 345,000 kids lived with single mothers and 57,000 with single dads.

“There is a clear link to the parental leave and it’s a sign of the growing equality between fathers and mothers,” study leader Karin Lundström told AFP, noting that fathers were increasingly taking advantage of paternity leave.

“They’re more inclined to care for their children and to be more involved in their education when they separate” from the mother, she added.

In Sweden, parents are entitled to 360 days of paid parental leave between them. Each parent must take at least two months, while the rest can be divided up between them as they like.

The statistics also showed that boys (19 percent) were more likely than girls (15 percent) to live with their fathers.

The percentage of children living with their dads was highest in northern counties. In Västernorrland and Jämtland, for example, 17 percent of girls and 22 percent of boys lived with their dads, compared to 13 percent of girls and 16 percent of boys in southern counties Skåne and Blekinge.

Karin Lundström suggested that higher unemployment levels in the north played a role in fathers caring for their children.

Meanwhile, southern Sweden is home to more immigrants than the rest of the country, and immigrant cultures and religions vary from the Swedish traditions.

“There is less of a tradition of (gender) equality and this tradition of fathers taking care of children,” she said.

Statistics Sweden’s figures also highlighted vast economic differences between single mother households and homes headed by single fathers.

Forty-six percent of children with single mums lived in households that had difficulty covering regular monthly expenses at some point during the last year. The equivalent figure for children with single fathers was 19 percent.

This financial discrepancy was also reflected in housing, with half of all children with single dads living in detached houses, compared to 16 percent of children with single mums.