Single mothers' contact frequency with family and non-family members
Keywords:single mothers, contact frequency, family contacts, non-family contacts, SOEP
Existing studies on single mothers’ social contacts often examine small selective samples and are mostly cross-sectional. The lack of high-quality longitudinal survey data on this subject constrains the possibility to draw more generalizable conclusions. This paper exploits panel data to investigate whether transitions to single motherhood affect contact frequency. Fixed-effects models are used on the six waves of the German ‘Socio-economic Panel’ survey that contain social contact data (1990, 1995, 1998, 2003, 2008, 2013) for analyzing whether single motherhood is associated with changes in contact frequency with family and non-family members. Findings show that women transitioning to single motherhood maintain contact with family and non-family members. Single motherhood is unlikely to cause mothers’ structural isolation. However, the absence of a second parent in the household neither seems to be connected with an increase in contact frequency with others. Providing a more generalised account of single mothers’ social contacts over time than previous research, the present study does not find evidence for a disintegrative effect of single motherhood.