Financial Fragility and Emergency Savings in Households Headed By Single Mothers
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
This study used Wave 9 of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) and the 2012 National Financial Capability Study (FFCWS). A subsample of respondents reporting children in their household was taken from each data set. The two subsamples were divided into three household types: single mothers (NFCS=1,457; FFCWS=2,563), married or cohabiting couples with children (NFCS=4,162; FFCWS=700), and single fathers (NFCS=724; FFCWS=176).
Households headed by single mothers more frequently reported higher rates of financial fragility and lower rates of emergency savings when compared to households headed by single fathers and cohabiting or married couples. Over three-quarters of single mothers did not have savings equal to three months of expenses, compared to 60% of single fathers and 64% of couples with children. When asked about savings equal to two months income, again, 78% of single mothers reported they did not have this amount of savings, compared to 77% of single fathers and 57% of couples. Similarly, 66% of single mothers reported that they were uncertain of their ability to come up with $2,000 in 30 days, compared to 41% of single fathers and 48% of couples with children.
Single mothers appear to struggle with inadequate liquid assets more than other household types. While the majority of respondents in both data sets did not have cash on hand in the form of personal savings, single mothers, as well as other heads of household, reported more confidence in their ability to come up a $2,000 in 30 days. Taken together, these findings indicate that households conceptualize their ability to weather an unexpected emergency more positively when the opportunity to draw upon multiple resources, perhaps friends and family, an alternative financial service, or personal savings, is possible.