Single-fatherhood: an emerging public health challenge

Single-fathers have three times higher chances of dying compared to single-mothers and partnered-fathers, a recent study published in the Lancet Public Health found. The study used Canadian Community Health Survey between the years of 2001 and 2012.

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Families with single-parents are increasingly becoming common in high-income countries. Although most of them are headed by single-mothers, families with single-fathers are also on the rise.

Being single-father on its own is not the problem, the problem is what leads to single-fatherhood and it’s associated social and lifestyle factors.

Key information:

  • More single-fathers (27%) are older (>50) compared to single-mothers (16%).
  • More single-fathers (85%) are separated, divorced, or widowed compared to single-mothers (68%).
  • More single fathers (30%) binge drink in a month compared to single-mothers (11%).

Key insights:

  • Families have evolved with mothers at the heart of it, equipping mothers to lead healthier family lives and building social support around them.
  • To address the issue, fathers should be more involved in home activities and social programs should cater to the needs of them.




Chiu, M., Rahman, F., Vigod, S., Lau, C., Cairney, J., & Kurdyak, P. (2018). Mortality in single fathers compared with single mothers and partnered parents: A population-based cohort study. The Lancet Public Health, 3(3), e115–e123.

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