NEW YORK — The number of single-father households has grown nine-fold over the last half- century, increasing at twice the pace of those led by single mothers, according to a study released Tuesday.
Almost 2.7 million U.S. households with children, or 1 in every 12, were headed by an unmarried dad in 2011, the Pew Research Center said in its analysis of census data. Only 297,000, or 1 in 100, were led by fathers in 1960.
The analysis underscores social changes that have swept the United States in the last half-century, including rising divorce rates and growing numbers of children raised by families that don't include two married people.
"The role of fathers has evolved, and the public now acknowledges their importance not only as breadwinners, but also as caregivers," the Washington-based research organization said in its report.
Slightly more than 9 of 10 U.S. households with children were headed by married couples in 1960. The figure had fallen to two-thirds by 2011, the latest year for which data are available.
Single fathers typically have less education and income than married dads, Pew said in its report. Like single moms, they also are younger and more likely to be minorities.
Unmarried dads reported median household income of $40,000, about $14,000 more than single mothers. The figure is still 57 percent of the median $70,000 earned by married fathers.
About one in four of single dads are poor, compared with 43 percent of unmarried mothers living in poverty. About 8 percent of married fathers are poor, Pew reported.
Single dads also were less likely to have a bachelor's degree. About 17 percent of unmarried fathers reported earning college degrees, less than half of the 40 percent of married dads with that level of education.
Census data show 1.6 million single fathers, about 59 percent, aren't living with a partner. The Pew report highlighted differences between those fathers and dads who are cohabitating.
Single fathers who weren't living with a partner reported median annual income of $43,000, while unmarried, cohabitating fathers made $38,000. One in 5 single fathers living alone with a child was poor. Thirty percent of dads with a partner fell below the poverty line.