Children & Youth
Single-Parent Families


Single-Parent Families

What does this measure?

The proportion of single-parent families with children under 18, as a percentage of all families with children under 18.

Why is this important?

Children in single-parent families are far more likely to grow up in low-income households than those living with two parents. They are at greater risk of low academic performance and behavioral problems and may experience parental conflict and residential instability as well.

How is our county performing?

In 2013-17, single parents headed 36% of families in Berks County with children under 18, slightly higher than Pennsylvania and the nation. The percentage in Berks County rose 10 percentage points since 2000, a larger increase than at the state and national levels, which rose 5-6 percentage points. Within the county, the percentage of single-parent families in 2013-17 was highest by far in the Central region, at 56%, while other regions ranged from 23% to 29%.

In the City of Reading, single parents headed 62% of families with children in 2013-17, up from 52% in 2000.

In 2013-17, the percentage of single-parent families in Berks County was higher than in Chester (21%), Montgomery (24%), and Lancaster (27%) counties. Berks was similar to Lebanon (35%), Lehigh (38%) and Schuylkill (34%). Since 2000, Lebanon and Lehigh had a percentage increase similar to Berks, while other counties typically had smaller increases.

Notes about the data

For additional detail as to how the Berks County regions are defined and which boroughs and townships are included in each, see the About Us page.

The multiyear figures are from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. The bureau combined five years of responses to the survey to provide estimates for smaller geographic areas and increase the precision of its estimates. However, because the information came from a survey, the samples responding to the survey were not always large enough to produce reliable results, especially in small geographic areas. CGR has noted on data tables the estimates with relatively large margins of error. Estimates with three asterisks have the largest margins, plus or minus 50% or more of the estimate. Two asterisks mean plus or minus 35%-50%, and one asterisk means plus or minus 20%-35%. For all estimates, the confidence level is 90%, meaning there is 90% probability the true value (if the whole population were surveyed) would be within the margin of error (or confidence interval). The survey provides data on characteristics of the population that used to be collected only during the decennial census. Data for this indicator are released annually in December.

There may be additional research available on this topic. Click on Reports and Resources to learn more.

Single-Parent Families
20002008-122013-17
Pennsylvania28%34%34%
Berks County26%36%36%
Berks County Regions
Central46%58%56%
Northeast15%26%23%
South20%27%29%
Southeast15%20%23%
West17%25%28%
Reading city52%63%62%
Berks County Peers
Chester County17%19%21%
Lancaster County22%25%27%
Lebanon County25%31%35%
Lehigh County27%34%38%
Montgomery County18%23%24%
Schuylkill County26%34%34%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Notes: Multiyear results are from rolling American Community Survey. * Margin of error between 20% & 35% of estimate; ** margin of error between 35% & 50%; *** margin of error greater than 50%.




Number of Single-Parent Families
20002008-122013-17
Pennsylvania440,548492,027480,627
Berks County12,46318,21517,495
Berks County Regions
Central6,7069,6698,770
Northeast1,0771,8521,415
South2,3473,6853,872
Southeast9981,2891,494
West1,2491,7201,950
Reading city5,8748,2027,418
Berks County Peers
Chester County10,05712,25513,212
Lancaster County13,37415,52516,077
Lebanon County3,7135,0215,594
Lehigh County10,71715,28616,485
Montgomery County18,11022,77023,350
Schuylkill County4,5355,7185,346

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Notes: Multiyear results are from rolling American Community Survey. * Margin of error between 20% & 35% of estimate; ** margin of error between 35% & 50%; *** margin of error greater than 50%.




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