Personal opinion – SIB to reinsert single mothers to the workforce

There is a strong message that I want to disclose before moving on with the post: The idea comes from personal experiences, from knowledge in the topic and it is not – by any means – polished. Meaning, I believe there is an opportunity area in this context and most likely someone with more experience in the matter might come to complete the concept, take it as it is, or argument against it. All opinions are welcomed.


Coming from a country in current state of “Developing economy”, I have seen in first hand challenges that raise specifically to single mothers when they look for a reinsertion to the workforce. Singles mothers will be understood within the scope of this publication as: “Single undependable on the reason”

Is because of the sum of empiric knowledge and facts that this topic has raised some internal concerns on how much is being done by governments, private organizations, and the society itself. If the work so far is arguably “still in progress”, the question comes to mind “Would a SIB be a game improve in how the public organizations/ institutions tackle the challenge?”

While expressing the concept, a proposal will be thrown to the reader as how it should be – at a bare minimum of players and targets – for it to work. Clear is, this social intervention should be evaluated across a medium-to-long period of time.

Quick facts
In North America:
  • Families headed by unmarried women are the ones most vulnerable to poverty and some of the most likely to be among the working poor (1)
  • Women who become single-mothers generally have less human capital to bring to the labor market due to having less education and fewer work experiences than their peers (1)
In the UK:
  • In 2016 there were 2.9 million single parents in the United Kingdom, representing an 18.6% increase in single parents since 1996. Women account for 86% of single parents with dependent children, the average age of a single parent is 38 years of age, with approximately 60% of single parents caring for one dependent child (2)
  • Despite high employment levels single parents are more likely to experience fuel poverty than other family structures. In addition, single parent families are still nearly twice as likely to be in poverty as those in couple parent families, with 67% of single parents reporting that they struggle with finances (2)
  • A study across 27 European countries found that single parents (in comparison to cohabiting parents and married parents) had poorer health, with the United Kingdom being substantially worse in this regard (2)
  • Brown and Morgan (1997) examined marital status, poverty and depression in female parents over a 2-year period and found that single parents were twice as likely as their married counterparts to be in financial hardship (Brown and Moran 1997), despite being twice as likely to be in full-time employment
In Latin America:
  • In Argentina 48% of the mothers in the country lived in 30% of the homes with the less economical resources (3)
  • Almost half of Latin American women over 15 have no income of their own, while only one in five men is in that situation (4)
  • Females heads of households have less monetary income than men, both in poor and higher-income households (4)
  • In 2002, only 36.7% of the total number of employed persons in Latin America corresponded to women, a figure that has not varied much compared to the 31.5% recorded in 1990 (4)
In the world:
  • Women earn less than men. Dedicate more time to domestic chores without any remuneration at all. Are more vulnerable to extreme poverty and less opportunities to enter the workforce. “Gender equity has not been achieved in any country in the world” (5)


Single Mothers: Actors which might be in one of the following scenarios; Currently out of the formal working force (- (1) with or (2) without previous experience) and (3) Currently part of the formal work force without an honorable salary. Quick facts prove that this selected type of population requires extra efforts from private or public organizations to be re-inserted into the workforce or (- if already there) to compete again for an honorable salary.

Government: Similar to any SIB, the ultimate responsible to provide a premium to the investors in case the intervention has succeeded, will be the government. Any specific branch – dependency will vary with the country in scope. In a bit more specificity, those departments/ dependencies responsible for “family care” or “Child-hood protection” might be the ones with bigger interest in this specific intervention.

Investors: None investor that has interest in improving the quality life of single parents families should be denied of funding capital to the intervention. Nonetheless, private organizations should raise self-awareness that the problem steams principally from their common operations. If indeed current organizations are taking steps to address the problematic of single parents, it is also true that more actions can be taken. Social investing in a similar program could potentially improve corporate image, finances and internal social initiatives.

Evaluating Agency: Similar to some other social interventions, the agency itself would represent better the interests of all the parties if evaluated by a third party. Metrics can and should be discussed among the stakeholders before agreed and most potentially with a big enough footprint to follow-up on all the participants

Intermediaries (Arguably the most relevant player in this initiative): The right intermediary should offer a wide range of solutions for single mothers most common challenges: Day-care services, further education tailored to the possible required scenarios (suitable level, schedules, location, etc.), understanding of the labor market current context, professional relationships to improve chances of success, psychological support for the participants, and other challenges that might raise along the development of the initiative.

Proposed targets

Targets should be divided among the three possible scenarios of the single mothers:

  • Currently out of the formal working force – without previous experience
  • Currently out of the formal working force – with previous experience
  • Currently part of the formal working force – without an honorable salary

Within each previous category, differentiation should be made on the levels desired to be achieved by the participants. Important: If the final goal is for all the participants to have a formal – with honorable – salary, the time constraint and individuals circumstances must be also considered in the intervention goals. Some examples below:

  • Has enough education being provided to be competitive in the labor market given the following variables: Age, location, profession chosen, time?
  • Is the applicant currently in enough application processes to consider that one will end in a positive result?
  • Has the participant achieved the ultimate goal of an honorable salary and stable position?


The target population is not a new topic. Is not facing new challenges. It has certainly been identified, yet efforts seem to not provide if not at the moment, in any short foreseeable future any improvements in net numbers.

A proposal for a social intervention similar to this one makes sense in the context when a key player (Intermediary) has enough resources to come upfront with the desired results.

Capital investment should not come as a challenge as many companies are increasing the resources to improve quality of life for their own employees. If similar is happening with other departments where services are being outsourced, same principle should apply for social improvement of the society when internal resources do not have skills and men hours required.

How much yet is left to be done? How many publications do we have about looses and benefits of bringing people from the informal workforce to the formal labor market?

  1. Damaske, S., Bratter, J. L., & Frech, A. (2017). Single mother families and employment, race, and poverty in changing economic times. Social science research, 62, 120–133. Retrieved from:
  2. Brown GW, Moran PM. Single mothers, poverty and depression. Psychological Medicine. 1997;27(01):21–33. doi: 10.1017/S0033291796004060 Retrieved from:
  3. Lupica, Carina (2015) Pobreza: mucho más fácil caer en ella cuando eres madre. Retreived from:
  4. Comision Economica para America Latina y el Caribe (2004) Pobreza afecta más a mujeres que a hombres en Latinoamérica. Retrieved from:
  5. Delle Femmine, Laura (2018) Las mujeres, dobles víctimas de la pobreza. Retrieved from:
  • Brown GW, Moran PM. Single mothers, poverty and depression. Psychological Medicine. 1997;27(01):21–33. doi: 10.1017/S0033291796004060

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