Lone mothers: how do they work and care in different welfare state regimes?
During the past decade lone mothers have increasingly been the subject of social scientists’ research. Broadly speaking, research on lone mothers has been divided into two streams. One category of research concentrates in a relatively limited way on lone mothers: their numbers, makeup and development, living conditions and in association with these factors, the extent of poverty and policies implemented. The other category utilizes lone mothers as a ‘border case’ to characterize the relationships between the state, the market and the family in a number of different types of welfare states. The treatment and wellbeing of lone mothers is used as a litmus test of how women in general fare in a given welfare state. However, there is not a sharp divide between these two categories of research and in this chapter the aim is to integrate them with the purpose of clarifying in what way the case of lone mothers can be used to categorize welfare states as ‘women-friendly’.