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Mental health of single mothers in Australia


The study investigates mental health and stress levels among sole mothers and how this compares to other mothers, as well as examining the mental health of sole mothers over time. First, we will update the research on “The psychological health of sole mothers in Australia” published by Loxton et al (2006)1. That study used the 1973-78 and 1946-51 cohorts to examine sole mothers’ psychological health. We will update that study using the 1973-78 and 1989-95 cohorts of women of approximate similar ages as in the original study by Loxton et al., examining psychological health amongst sole mothers about one generation later. More specifically, we will examine the association between mental health and stress levels (measures in relation to money, work and children); ability to manage on available income; possession of a health care card; prevalence of illicit drug taking, smoking and alcohol use; parental leave arrangements; childcare use; childcare cost; leave arrangement post birth; time spent in work and leisure activities; and support received by single mothers. Second, this study will exploit the longitudinal nature of the data to study sole parents’ experiences over time, that is, their (approximately 20 year) life cycle. Where possible, we hope to map these against policy changes. -- 1 Loxton, D., R. Mooney, and A.F. Young. 2006. The psychological health of sole mothers in Australia. The Medical journal of Australia 184: 265–268.