Where Are All the 'Welfare Queens?' Diversity and European Evidence on Single-Parent Families

Hosted by the Department of Social Policy and LSE US Centre as part of the Phelan Family Lecture Series

Online public event


Professor Janet C. Gornick

Professor Janet C. Gornick

Dr Laurie C. Maldonado

Dr Laurie C. Maldonado

Professor Ive Marx

Professor Ive Marx

Dr Rense Nieuwenhuis

Dr Rense Nieuwenhuis


Dr Amanda Sheely

Dr Amanda Sheely

In the United States, single mothers are often blamed for their own circumstances and offered little support. The American social policy discourse is very much shaped by the image of the “welfare queen” – a never-married single mother who is dependent on public assistance and refuses to work. However, experiences of lone parents across Europe and other countries calls this stereotype into question. So what does this mean for social policy?

Our panel will engage in discussion and provide comparative policy lessons intended to improve the lives of single-parent families in the United States. The panel will also discuss future directions and pressing challenges for single-parent families during a time of COVID-19, as well as social and political unrest in the U.S.

Meet our speakers and chair

Janet C. Gornick (@JanetGornick) is the Director of the Stone Center of Socio-Economic Inequality, Professor of Political Science at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and Director of the US Office of LIS. She has published widely on social welfare policies and their impact on gender disparities in the labor market and/or on income inequality. She has published widely in academic journals.

Laurie C. Maldonado (@LCMaldonado1) is Assistant Professor of Social Work at Molloy College, New York. Her research examines the consequences of social policy on the lives of single parent and their families. She has co-edited a book, titled The Triple Bind of Single-Parent Families. Previously, she has worked as a research associate for The Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality.

Ive Marx (@IveMarx) is a Professor at the University of Antwerp where he also services as the Director of the Centre for Social Policy Herman Deleeck. His main research interest is labour market and welfare state change in relation to the distribution of income, with a particular focus on poverty.

Rense Nieuwenhuis (@RNieuwenhuis) is Associate Professor at Stockholm University SOFI. He studies how family diversity and social policy affect poverty and economic inequality. His research is country-comparative and has a gender perspective. Dr Nieuwenhuis’s recent research is on single-parent families, how women’s earnings affect inequality between households, and family policy outcomes. 

Amanda Sheely (@AmandaSheely3) is Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She studies social assistance programs for lone mothers, with a primary focus on the United States.

More about this event

The Department of Social Policy (@LSESocialPolicy) provides top quality international and multidisciplinary research and teaching on social and public policy challenges facing countries across the world. From its foundation in 1912 it has carried out cutting edge research on core social problems, and helped to develop policy solutions.

LSE's United States Centre (@LSE_US) is a hub for global expertise, analysis and commentary on America. Its mission is to promote policy-relevant and internationally-oriented scholarship to meet the growing demand for fresh analysis and critical debate on the United States.

Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSESingleParent


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How can I attend? Add to calendar

This online public event is free and open to all but pre-registration is required.

Register for this event on Zoom at Where Are All the 'Welfare Queens?' Diversity and European Evidence on Single-Parent Families.

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This event will be streamed live on Facebook


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