Single-Mother Households On the Rise in Key Election States

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With Redfin Data Scientists Taylor Marr and Eric Scharnhorst

Child care policy has taken center stage in the national presidential campaign. While Hillary Clinton’s plan includes 12 weeks of paid parental leave for male and female parents, Donald Trump’s offers half as much leave, just to new mothers. Child care is an important voting issue, regardless of marital and parental statuses, but single mothers are among those who will be the most directly affected by whichever plan is enacted.  

To see where child care benefits could have the most impact in this year’s election, Redfin looked into the latest data released by the American Community Survey (ACS).  

The share of households headed by a single mom grew significantly in 24 of America’s 100 largest cities in 2015. The increases are concentrated in key battleground states, critical to the outcome of this year’s election.  California, Texas and Florida are home to several cities that are seeing a boom in young families headed by single mothers. California and Texas claimed five of the top 10 cities with the largest growth in the share of single-mom households.

Map: arrow length shows the increase in the share of single-mom households in 2015, compared with the rate in 2012 for each city.
Map: arrow length shows the increase in the share of single-mom households in 2015, compared with the rate in 2012 for each city.

While many of the top cities are in California, a blue state that everyone expects will go to Clinton, Arizona and Florida are both important states for Trump to win. Given the large increase in single-mother households in these cities, the specificity of Trump’s plan may help him with female voters even in California — a demographic he’s been accused of ignoring at best and slandering at worst.

Each of these cities share another demographic trait important to this year’s election — a large foreign-born population. So while Trump’s proposal to provide child care assistance may help him in these communities, his aggressive stance on immigration could mean one step forward and two steps back for his campaign.

Table: top ten cities with the largest increase in the share of single mom households from 2012 to 2015.

Rank City Share of Single-Mom Households
Percent Change (2012-15)
Share of Single-Mom Households Current Polling*
1 Chula Vista, California 20.2% 3.5% D +20.6
2 Chandler, Arizona 18.6% 2.9% R +4.6
3 Tucson, Arizona 16.7% 4.1% R +4.6
4 Oxnard, California 15.1% 3.6% D +20.6
5 Tampa, Florida 14.3% 4.4% R +1.1
6 Houston, Texas 13.8% 4.6% R +9.3
7 Chesapeake, Virginia 13.2% 3.6% D +4.6
8 San Bernardino, California 11.5% 5.1% D +20.6
9 St. Louis, Missouri 9.5% 5.4% R +8.9
10 Fresno, California 7.3% 4.9% D +20.6
National -6.7% 3.6%


The growth in the overall number of families was less dramatic than the growth in single-mom families; fewer cities saw a significant increase, and the increases were generally smaller.


Demographic data came from the one-year American Community Survey for 2015 and 2012. The median sale price of homes came from Redfin. The analysis looked at U.S. cities with a population of at least 200,000. The family percentages do not include grandparents that are legal guardians. Current polling by state came from 538’s aggregation of recent state presidential election polls. View the full code that powered this analysis here.

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Chief Economist

Nela leads Redfin’s housing market research team on data reports that help Redfin customers make informed choices. She comes to Redfin from Bloomberg LP, where she served as a senior economist with Bloomberg Government. She also served in past roles in the mortgage industry, capital markets and financial policy. Redfin is a full-service real estate brokerage that uses modern technology to make clients smarter and faster. For more information about working with a Redfin real estate agent to buy or sell a home, visit our "Why Redfin?," page.

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