Access a selection of research findings, reports, and media articles about families led by one person in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Birthright New Zealand believes that services and policies impacting families, particularly those led by one person, should be evidence-based. We rely on the voices of the families themselves, our expert advisors, as well as social work best-practice and robust research from related disciplines.

Many agencies and organisations are doing research and analysis around families. We will continue to highlight findings from this work as it emerges.

Latest research around single-parent families 

Prolonged loneliness in New Zealand before, during, and after lockdown

Published August 2020 - This report by Loneliness New Zealand examines the negative effects of COVID-19 increasing the risk of loneliness. The impact of prolonged loneliness upon New Zealanders is the focus of this report as social connection is one of the top three primary drivers of wellbeing in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Relationship Status and the welfare system in Aotearoa New Zealand

Published May 2019 - This Child Poverty Action Group report demonstrates that the current welfare system in New Zealand does not treat single-parent families equitably with two-parent families. Outdated rules excluding single parents need to be altered to reflect the reality of family life in Aotearoa New Zealand.  

The state of wellbeing and equality for disabled people, their families, and whānau

Published December 2019 - Wellbeing and equality for disabled people and their whānau is the main issue highlighted in this report by CSS Disability Action. Greater financial support for disabled people and their families will improve their sense of wellbeing. Improved support services must foster inclusion and reduce poverty overall.

Single-mother led families with disabled children in Aotearoa New Zealand

Published 2019 - This thesis by Jane Lee explores the experiences of single-mother led families with a disabled child/children in Aotearoa New Zealand. Approximately 30% of New Zealand’s disabled children live in single-parent families, most of which are led by women. Reconsideration of societal perceptions towards single mothers and disabled children is seen as being necessary.

Understanding disadvantages and vulnerabilities 

Multiple disadvantage among sole parents in New Zealand

Published June 2018 - This study by The Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit finds that young mothers belonging to a Māori or Pacific family with infant children are more likely to face multiple disadvantages. Income and availability of good quality, affordable housing are two areas where single parents face significant challenges.

Children in sole parent households

Published 2014 - This report by the South Island Alliance examines the correlations between parental relationship breakdown and multiple associated adversities, including poverty. Not all children experience the negative impact of these consequences, most adjust to their new situation after a period of instability.

Sole parenting in New Zealand

Published July 2010 - In this report, The Ministry of Social Development seeks to improve understanding of the vulnerabilities faced by single-parent families. Measures to reduce disadvantage are set out through evidence-based understanding of vulnerabilities. A broad focus is necessary to improve the wellbeing of vulnerable single-parent families.

Lifecourse factors associated with time spent receiving main benefits in young adulthood

Published July 2010 - This study from the Ministry of Social Development finds that childhood adversity is a correlating factor associated with extended time spent receiving a benefit. Women who received a benefit for an extended period of time were most often receiving support as a single parent.

Policy reform needed to support single-parent families

Restructuring opportunities for one-parent families and their children in Aotearoa New Zealand

Published 2018 - This report from The Workshop tackles the structural changes needed to improve the lives of single-parent families. Single-parent families in New Zealand struggle inside of a system that limits their choices. Single mothers and their children must repeatedly show resilience in the face of barriers and a systemic lack of support.

Mums need to be supported, not punished

Published August 2016 - This report by the Child Poverty Action Group demonstrates how the government could offer better support to single mothers by acknowledging parenting as an important role. Policies around paid work should only be implemented where there is a financial advantage to the family.  

Understanding subgroups of sole parents receiving main benefits

Published July 2010 - This study by the Centre for Social Research and Evaluation aims to better support disadvantaged subgroups of single parents by informing government policy and service development through robust research. Subgroups of sole parents must be understood in order to best represent their needs as an overall group of families led by one person.

Discrimination and families 

Myths and facts: sole parents and the DPB

Published March 2013 - In this report, the Child Poverty Action Group aims to dispel harmful myths that isolate and cause societal divisions for single parents receiving a benefit. The authors argue for a child-centred approach to shift legislation and policy development towards inclusion and away from discrimination.

Social stigma makes parenting alone that much harder

Published August 2008 - This newspaper article by Christine Todd in The New Zealand Herald represents the societal challenges faced by single mothers receiving a benefit. Subsisting on the low-income provided by the benefit means that many single-parent families suffer both from discrimination and the stigma of poverty.

Demonstrating resilience  

Resilience in sole parent families

Published May 2011 - This study by the Family Centre focuses on interviews with single parents about resilience and factors that help or hinder successful social and economic outcomes for themselves and their children. The value of hard work and the importance of education are seen as two main factors contributing to the success of single-parent families.

Resilience in teenage mothers

Published July 2010 - This study by the Ministry of Social Development examines resilience in teenage mothers to focus on positive outcomes. Most teenage mothers experience periods of solo parenting, even if they are not all single parents. The study aims to defy stereotypes of teenage mothers by illustrating their resilience even when facing challenges associated with being a young and, at times, single mother.