In analyzing the widening gaps between minority groups and whites in Colorado on key measures of social progress, there are harsh realities behind the numbers. One is that among homes with children living in poverty, 68 percent are headed by just one parent, typically the mother.
Single parenthood is a bigger indicator of poverty than race, according to six decades of U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by I-News Network at Rocky Mountain PBS.
Combined as it often is with curtailed educational and employment opportunities, the rise of the single-parent family is a major factor in the widening disparities between blacks, Latinos and white state residents since the decades surrounding the civil rights movement.
The I-News analysis covered family income, poverty rates, high school and college graduation, and home ownership as reported by the Census Bureau from 1960 to 2010. Health data and justice reports were also examined.
While the rate of single parenthood has increased among all races, its surge has been particularly dramatic among blacks. In Colorado, more than 50 percent of black households with young children are headed by a single parent compared to 25 percent of white households. Among Latino households in the state with young children, 35 percent are headed by a single parent, according to the I-News analysis.
While many single parents raise thriving, productive children, the growing trend of fatherless homes has enormous implications for future generations. Children living in a female-led household in Colorado are four times more likely to grow up in poverty, the I-News analysis showed, than children living married-couple households.
“When you talk with some of the older experienced folks of the civil rights movement, the one thing that we continue to come back to is the challenged family structure – African-Americans and Latinos — in the sense that back in the 60s the family structure was much more solid,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
“There were more men in the house. There were less single women trying to raise children on their own. The family structure has disintegrated in a sense. That challenge is real.”
I-News published its findings earlier this year in Losing Ground, which is available on the Web and in a downloadable e-book. It continues to be discussed at community forums, and the Colorado Black Roundtable, an organization of African American leaders from across the state, has launched a summer-long effort to spread word about the findings that will culminate with a summit Saturday at Denver’s Manual High School.