Kenzie Yezzi

Date of Award

January 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Economics & Finance

First Advisor

Daniel Biederman


Academic studies of single-mother poverty to date largely focused on presenting and analyzing the correlation between single-mother poverty incidence and variables such as maternal age, education and employment. The previous literature strongly demonstrated that younger maternal age, lower education levels and reduced income are positively correlated with single mother status compared to married mothers (Bitler & Waller, 2008; Minnotte, 2012). Since previous studies have also shown that younger maternal age, lower educational attainment and weaker employment history greatly increase the risk of poverty among single mothers (Zhan & Pandey, 2004) I seek to further examine which background phenomena may be driving these trends in age, education and employment observed among many single mothers – particularly because not all single mothers fit this demographic profile and not all, or even most, single mothers are poor.

With this paper I hypothesize that the ability, or lack thereof, to maximize upon reproductive planning opportunities may help explain the younger maternal age, lower educational attainment, and weaker employment history trends that ultimately serve to create unfavorable financial outcomes to single mothers. By analyzing these demographic trends as a function and product of reproductive planning opportunities and frontiers, I hope to provide greater context and insight into how and why single mothers experience poverty, beyond a simple demographic profile.