Through the lens of single parenthood: a comparative snapshot of the impact of neoliberal welfare, housing and employment policies on single mothers in the UK and Sweden

Sue Cohen, Tove Samzelius


The paper considers why feminists working on gender mainstreaming in the UK looked to Sweden for models to effect structural change and why in recent years the models in Sweden are deficient, embodying an ever-increasing blind spot to the socio/economic constraints experienced by single parents, migrant mothers the most marginalised. Referencing academic feminist research in Sweden and the UK, as well as participatory research over many years involving single mothers, the paper examines why poverty is more entrenched in the UK: how in both countries neo-liberal trajectories of welfare, employment and housing policies are increasingly similar with exclusionary outcomes; how the position of single mothers acts is a touchstone for persistent intersectional inequalities in both countries. We conclude that by examining welfare, housing and employment policies through the lens of single parenthood, feminists can better re-frame strategies informed by the reproductive economy furthering the socio/economic independence of female headed households.


Single mothers; UK; Sweden; Gender analysis; Social Security


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