Five myths about mothers and families worldwide

Child Trends has prepared a new research brief that summarises the key findings of World Family Map 2014, a report released by Child Trends in collaboration with a consortium of international research institutions and non-government organisations. Their work involves monitoring key family indicators affecting child well-being in 60 countries in every region of the globe. Overall, their research showed that much conventional wisdom about mothers does not necessarily hold true around the world. In particular:

  • Women in Europe have the highest rates of non-marital birth. Central and South American countries, with a long history of consensual unions, lead the world in rates of cohabitation (living together without being married) and non-marital childbearing.
  • Living together without being married is becoming more common worldwide. While cohabitation is increasing in many regions of the world, it remains uncommon in the more traditional regions of the Middle East and Asia, with the exception of the Philippines. In most countries, the percentage of married adults is still substantially higher than those who are cohabiting.
  • Adults are satisfied with family life, but teens are not. While conventional wisdom suggests that teens want nothing to do with their parents, they actually have closer relationships with their parents than is generally perceived. The study revealed that teenagers, for example, talk quite a bit to their parents.
  • Single mothers are more likely to be poor. While it is true in the US that single mothers generally have lower income than married mothers, in many developing countries, single mothers are more likely to be highly educated and have a higher income than other mothers.
  • Children raised by single mothers have worse outcomes than other kids. In the US, children living with a single mother are at higher risk of poorer health, educational, behavioural, and emotional outcomes. However, this is not true universally.

Source: World Family Map 2014: Mapping Family Change and Child Well-being Outcomes (2014), Child Trends.

English teenagers do well at problem solving…

A new PISA study has been published, responding to the question of whether today’s 15-year-olds are acquiring the problem-solving skills needed in the 21st century. The study presents results from the PISA 2012 assessment of problem solving, which was administered on computer to about 85,000 teenagers in 44 countries and economies.

Singapore, Korea, and Japan top the performance table. However, England, which is often cited as “underperforming” in international tests, is 11th, with pupils performing significantly better in problem solving, on average, than pupils in other countries who show similar performance in mathematics, reading, and science.

In general boys outperformed girls in problem solving, and the study also found that the impact of socio-economic status on problem-solving performance is weaker than it is on performance in mathematics, reading, or science.

Source: PISA 2012 Results: Creative Problem Solving: Students’ skills in tackling real-life problems (Volume V) (2014), OECD.