The recent New York Times article connecting growing income inequality to single motherhood has set the blogosphere humming, but some of the commentary, marred by partial or second-hand reading of the research, has revived long-standing myths about single mothers. Let’s deconstruct a few of them:

Myth 1: You can’t generalize about single mothers since their circumstances and life outcomes vary enormously. Social scientists have been studying single mothers for decades. By this point, their findings have taken into account just about any measurable difference you can think of and have been replicated so often that generalizations—especially the poorer outcomes of their children—are entirely justified.


Myth 2: Single mothers get pregnant by men with whom they have casual sex, and even in cases where they are romantically involved, fathers quickly abandon them. According to the best source of data available, the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study following 5,000 married and unmarried urban couples since 1998, 83 percent of unmarried mothers were “romantically involved” with the father of their child at the time of birth.

[Read more: slate]