Health Disparities Investigation 1: Single Motherhood

Contributor:  Mohammed Turfe

In today's post I'll be talking about a quandary that is prevalent on a global, national, and community scale. One that ties together a plethora of health disparities such as education, food disparities, and being entitled to the basic necessities of life. This issue is none other than single motherhood. 

In the United States, 19 million children reside with single mothers, which is third most in the world, and 60% of said families situate below the poverty line (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011). Single motherhood in the United States has escalated immensely over the past century as 60% of children in the City of Detroit, 19 million kids nationwide, reside with only their mother (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015). This dramatic increase is only exacerbating nowadays as out of the 9,900 women who gave birth in Detroit for the year 2012, 80% of them were single mothers (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015). Such youth are burdened with susceptibility to low graduation rates, crime involvement and incarceration, poverty and a higher probability of being single themselves. These obstacles however are only on the periphery as the prioritized and most troublesome issue to combat is food insecurity. In fact, when compared to major household characteristics, single mothers and their children are afflicted by the highest prevalence for very low food security at 35% (United States Department of Agriculture, 2014). Food insecurity is also an issue that impacts Detroit as 1.8 million Michiganders live in areas with limited access to healthy food (Bouffard, 2015). Despite the lack of adequate fresh food markets in both rural and urban areas, lack of transportation and high prices ultimately restrict single mothers from providing nutritious food to their children. 

You may ask yourself, how are these women getting burdened with these unfortunate situations? The fact of the matter is, and as we all know, life can take a turn for the worse in an instant. To actualize the issue for you, let me tell you about a women and her 3 children that live in Dearborn. Before coming to Dearborn however, she lived in a Middle Eastern country with her husband and children who decided it would be best for his family to move to the U.S., the land of opportunity. Months before their intended departure however, he suffered a massive heart attack and passed away. May God rest his soul. Traumatized, the wife still decided to move to the United States because it was her husband's dream to do so. Unfortunately, life in the U.S has been tough on her family. They live in a run-down apartment with molded ceiling tiles, a tore down floor, and a cover for a dinner table. The worst part, is that the family doesn't have a refrigerator and preserved her food by placing it outside on the windowsill during the cold months. Fortunately, is now receiving essential assistance from a humanitarian organization, Zaman International, but this family is a microcosm of a worldwide issue. 

What the single motherhood dilemma delineates is a generational cycle of poverty. Children of these families are susceptible to a plethora of pathologies such as lower graduation rates, higher incarceration rates, and higher susceptibility to food insecurity. In order for this issue to be resolved, effective policies need to be implemented that not only provide the emergency assistance they need to make it to the next day, but also allow them to become suitable providers for their families. 

Hopefully this opens your eyes to the prevalence of health disparities in our own backyard. 

If you have any follow up questions about this matter or would like to suggest a topic for discussion, drop a comment below.


1. "State & County QuickFacts: Michigan." U.S. Census Bureau, 24 Mar. 2015. Web.

2. "Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences." United States Department of Agriculture, June 2009. Web.

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