Children & Youth
Single-Parent Families

Single-Parent Families

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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?

Single-parent families may experience more stress and economic strain than dual-parent households with two incomes. Children in these families can be at risk of poorer health and educational outcomes. However, children may also have opportunities to build resilience and experience a larger community through the support of extended family and friends.

How is our county performing?

In 2015-19, single parents headed 37% of families in Berks County with children under 18, slightly higher than Pennsylvania and the nation. The percentage in Berks County rose 11 percentage points since 2000, a larger increase than at the national and state levels, which rose 5-7 percentage points. Within the county, the percentage of single-parent families in 2015-19 was highest by far in the Central region, at 56%, while other regions ranged from 22% to 31%.

In the City of Reading, single parents headed 61% of families with children in 2015-19, up from 52% in 2000.

In 2015-19, the percentage of single-parent families in Berks County was higher than in Chester (21%), Montgomery (24%), and Lancaster (26%) counties. Berks was similar to Lebanon (36%) and Lehigh and Schuylkill (both at 38%). Since 2000, Lehigh, Lebanon and Schuylkill 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
Berks County26%36%37%
Berks County Regions
Reading city52%63%61%
Berks County Peers
Chester County17%20%21%
Lancaster County22%26%26%
Lebanon County25%33%36%
Lehigh County27%35%38%
Montgomery County18%23%24%
Schuylkill County26%35%38%

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
Berks County12,46317,92817,767
Berks County Regions
Reading city5,8748,0137,112
Berks County Peers
Chester County10,05712,47213,375
Lancaster County13,37415,98715,727
Lebanon County3,7135,3575,624
Lehigh County10,71714,75717,221
Montgomery County18,11022,68023,735
Schuylkill County4,5355,5686,003

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%.