According to a study based on 2011 census data released by the Pew Institute, single fathers now account for at least one quarter of single parent households. In fact, the study estimates that in 2011, the number of single fathers was already nearly nine times what had been in 1960. By contrast, single mother households, which still account for the majority of single parent households, have increased by about four times since 1960.

With a record 8% of households in 2011 headed by single fathers, the Pew Institute undertook to understand more about this up and coming sector of the population. In order to obtain the most accurate data, the survey accounted for fathers who had a shared custody arrangment by requiring that a “single father” have had custody of his child(ren) for at least two whole months during the previous year. The data revealed that in 2011, 59% of single fathers were either separated, divorced, widowed or never married, while 41% were living with a significant other.

While single fathers are more likely to be younger and less educated than married ones, the data suggested that they are also less likely than a single mother to live at or below the poverty line. However in 2011, 24% of single fathers still lived at or below the poverty line, compared with 43% of single mothers who lived at or below the poverty line.