Lorentzen, T., & Syltevik, L. J. (2023). If unpartnered at the birth of a child, how would you fare? A life-course perspective on contemporary single motherhood. Community, Work & Family, 1-26.

In this article, we use population-based administrative data and multichannel sequence analysis to investigate the trajectories of single mothers in Norway who had a child while unpartnered in 1993, 2001 and 2008. Our observation period is from 1994 to 2015. This period covers several structural transformations in Norwegian society and changes in family policies and welfare policies concerning single mothers. Furthermore, the period saw the growth of alternatives to the nuclear family as the prevailing normative ideal. Our findings demonstrate both complexity and heterogeneity among single mothers and their trajectories. Even so, the population of this group of single mothers is both younger and have lower education than the comparable population of non-single mothers. Nearly half of the single mothers followed trajectories characterized by strong labour market integration and family re-establishment. The other half followed more precarious trajectories characterized by unemployment and health related benefits. Importantly, age and life stage have strong implications for the labour market and family trajectories. Thus, early parenthood combined with leaving school early increases the probability of following precarious trajectories. The results further suggest that both economic cycles and changing welfare state framework is of great importance for single mother trajectories.