File image: little girl sitting alone and emotional. source - Pexels

Children of one-parent families earn less, have fewer friends and are more likely to be single, a study shows.

Adults who were born into a single-parent home earn 27% less than those whose parents stayed together, a report by the University of Warwick reveals.

Having grown up without seeing their two parents together, they are also 9% less likely to be in a romantic relationship themselves and more often divorced.

Almost a quarter of British children are being raised in one-parent homes, the vast majority by single mothers.

Co-author Dr Sakari Lemola said: "The way our parents interacted in their relationship when we were children has an influence on how we interact with our partner when we are adult.

"There is evidence that we at least partly learn our so-called "attachment style" from our parents." 

His study, with the German Institute for Economic Research, took data from 641 people who spent their entire childhood with a single mother.

They were compared with 21,943 people who grew up with both parents and 1,539 who had both parents but lost one to separation or divorce before the age of 15.

Results show children of two parents can expect to earn an average of £983.22 a month (about R16 206), compared to £709.94 (R11 686) for people with a single parent from birth. 

The pay gap is more than £150 a month for children who spent some but not all of their childhood with one parent.

"These findings suggest that both parents still provide important resources even when children have already grown up and left their parents' home," said Dr Lemola.

"During young adulthood, these resources may include financial support as well as access to social networks, which are important to find a good job."

The findings, reported in the journal PLOS One, also reveal that children with a single parent from birth have only 4.08 friends on average, compared to 4.62 for those whose parents stayed together. 

Among people who grew up with both parents, close to two-thirds were in a relationship in adulthood, while for those who grew up with a single parent for their entire childhood the figure was 55%.

Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, said: "Study after study confirms that children thrive on the stability that comes from having two parents who are committed both to each other and to their children for life. The idea that all family forms are to be equally celebrated flies in the face of the evidence."

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