PARENTHOOD STUDY PAINTS BLEAK PICTURE.
Compared to childless Californians, those with children are poorer, less educated and less likely to have adequate medical care, according to a study released today.
What's more, 21 percent of Californians with children are single parents, according to the study by the Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California, San Francisco.
Half of all California adults with children have no more than a high school degree and only 22 percent have a college degree, according to the study. Among adults without children, 35 percent have a college degree.
The study also found that 28 percent of Californians with children under 18 are living below or near the federal poverty level, compared to 11 percent of those without children. The federal poverty level is $13,342 in household income for a family of three and $22,000 for a family of four.
In addition, one of every five households with children is ``very or somewhat likely to experience housing, food or medical attention in the next two months,'' the study found. Only one in 10 childless households was in the same situation.
The study is based on a telephone survey of 1,771 California adults. Researchers conducted the survey from June 10 to July 21.
The study also concluded that ``working parents face great demands in balancing employment and family needs.''
The study noted that ``22 percent of California's parents report not getting enough sleep on at least 20 days in the past month, a larger proportion than among adults with no children in the household (14 percent).''
Not surprisingly, the study also found that single parents are in much worse financial shape than couples with children. Half of California's single parents have incomes of less than $20,000, compared to 21 percent of couples with children.
``When single parents do work, they would appear to have lower levels of job security than their counterparts in couples,'' the study noted. ``In the past three years, 22 percent of the former vs. 16 percent of the latter report losing a job or leaving one because they expected to lose it.''
The stress and financial strain of being a parent also appears to take a toll on one's health.
``A small proportion of single parents reports being in excellent or very good health than parents in couples (53 vs. 63 percent),'' the study found. ``In addition, twice as many single parents as their counterparts in couples experience a high or moderate level of depressive symptoms (33 percent vs. 17 percent).''
Single parents are also more likely to smoke and drink heavily, the study concluded. Twenty-one percent of single parents have more than three drinks a day, compared to only 11 percent of parents in couples.
Chart: Parent gap