Arends-Kuenning, Mary P., and Suzanne Duryea. 2006. "The Effect of Parental Presence, Parents’ Education, and Household Headship on Children’s Schooling and Work in Latin America." Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 27(5): 263-286.
We investigate how the presence and education of parents affect adolescents’ school attendance, work participation, and school attainment in Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Panama. Across the four countries, approximately 20% of adolescents live in single-mother families and 4% in single-father families. Adolescents who live in single-mother families have significantly lower school attendance and attainment than adolescents who live with both parents. However, the effects of living in a single-mother family are small relative to the effects of parents’ education. Adolescents who live in single-mother families are not more likely to work than adolescents in two-parent families. Finally, targeting benefits to children in single-mother families would reach more children at risk of poor school outcomes than targeting children in female-headed households.