During the orientation process of the available literature we were able to identify the following interventions for decisions concerning short-term housing arrangements post-separation: Single person/parent household Extended household
The composition of an ‘extended household’ includes both the ‘nuclear family’ and people outside the nuclear family (Abalos, p. 850). ‘Single person household’ refers to a living arrangement where one individual head their own household. ‘Single parent household’ refers to a living arrangement were one parent lives with a child or children.
Research shows that people are generally not inclined to move unless there is a compelling reason to do so, such as separation (Mulder et al, p. 154). Living arrangements are highly associated with children’s well-being (Abalos, p. 845). For the purpose of this PICO question, we compare living in a single person or single parent household with living in an extended household.
For separated or separated individuals, is moving into an extended household more effective than moving into a single person/parent household for their well being?
The databases used are: HeinOnline, Westlaw, Wiley Online Library, JSTOR and Taylor & Francis.
For this PICO question, keywords used in the search strategy are: separation, divorce, housing arrangements, living arrangements, singleparent families.
Quality of evidence and research gap
The article by Mulder et. al. investigates the influence of relative resources on who moves out of the marital home in light of separation: the man, the woman or both. Gram-Hanssen and Bech-Danielsen’s study uses a quantitative and qualitative approach to see how the housing situation of different types of people was affected by the separation. Feijten investigates immediate and the lagged effects of union dissolution and unemployment on homeownership. Abalos examined living arrangements of separated people using data from the Philippines’ 2000 Census of Population and Housing. Mikolai and Kulu investigated the effect of marital and non-marital separation on individual’s residential and housing trajectories using data from the British Household Panel Survey. According to the HiiL Methodology: Assessment of Evidence and Recommendations, the strength of this evidence is classified as ‘low’.
Research shows that the extended household may be more practical than single or single-parent households because it may provide better economic security due to the pooling of resources (Abalos, p. 855). The following examples may be relevant:
Separated persons with low education, who live in an extended household, with the economic support of the adult members, are able to complete their education. In contrast, those living in single or single parent households and providing for their own dependents, may be unable to pursue higher education (Abalos, p. 856).
Women with children can also depend on other members of the extended household for childcare, especially if she is employed, thus avoiding additional childcare costs (Abalos, p. 855). Living in an extended family, therefore, is seen as more financially secure than living alone.
Moreover, where a family is characterised by strong family solidarity and kinship ties, those who have experienced a marital break up may turn to their extended family for support. This is especially true for a woman whose marriage was dissolved at a young age. They are less likely to be financially secure, less likely to have children (and even if they do, these children are more likely to be in their childhood years in need of more care), and are more likely to have their either or both parents still alive. Thus, returning to the parental household far outweighs the cost of living alone or heading their own single parent family (Abalos, p. 846-847).
Individuals who live in a single person household feel more pressure to participate in labour than those in an extended household. The latter do not feel the same kind of pressure because of the economic security afforded to them by their extended family (Abalos, p. 857). People living in extended households might not be inclined to work. Research shows that adolescents in single parent families may be pressured to leave school early to seek employment. Low educational achievement is likely to be associated with low occupational attainment, unemployment, poverty, and welfare dependency later in life (Amato & B. Keith p. 44).
In determining whether living in an extended household after separation is more effective than in a single household, the desirable and undesirable outcomes of both interventions must be considered.
The evidence shows that living in an extended household provides more economic and social security than living in a single household, particularly for people of low-income. On the other hand, it does not innately incentivise people to seek employment. Nevertheless, the desirable outcomes outweigh the undesirable outcomes.
Accordingly, living in an extended household is more effective than living in a single household.
Taking into account the clear balance towards the desired outcomes, and the strength of the evidence, we make the following recommendation: Extended household arrangements are more effective than single parent/person household arrangements.
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