Being A Single Dad Can Lead To An Early Grave

Father working on laptop at home office and holding son on his lap

Being a single parent can be tough on anyone, but research is now showing that being a single dad can have a greater impact on the lifespan of a man.

New research from the University of Toronto reveals that single dads don’t live as long as their attached counterparts. In fact, according to the research, over the course of a decade six out of every 100 single dads will likely die. This compares to two single moms, two partnered dads and one partnered mom out of every 100.

“We found that single fathers had a threefold higher mortality compared to single moms and partnered dads, and a fivefold higher mortality compared to partnered moms,” said Maria Chiu, the lead research scientists with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Services at the University of Toronto, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.

The Study

The research looked at more than 40,000 people who had taken part in a long-term Canadian Community Health Survey. The research effort included 871 single fathers, 4,590 single mothers, 16,341 partnered dads and 18,688 partnered moms.

The average age of the participants was between 41 and 46 at the time of the survey, and the questionnaires looked at lifestyle, diet and economic status. Additionally, the participants medical history was explored.

Researchers followed up 11 years later and learned 693 people had died. Even though single dads were a minority in the study, they were still more likely to have died in the decade since the study began.

While conducted in Canada, the research notes that 2.6 million households in the United States are headed up by single dads. This has multiplied 9 times since the 1960s.

The Findings

The researchers believe the following reasons resulted in the findings:

  • On average, the single fathers were older at the beginning of the study.
  • They already had a higher prevalence of heart disease and cancer.
  • They were more likely to have an unhealthy lifestyle – less fruits and vegetables in their diets and more likely to binge drink.

Additionally, Chiu suspects social factors might play a role in the findings. She cites single dads aren’t as good at looking for help or finding social support, and they are less likely to schedule “self-time.”

“On average, women are more likely to seek social support, whereas for the dads there are either real or perceived barriers,” Chiu said to the Chicago Tribune. “(Women are) more likely to engage in these social and community groups that are protective of their health.”

A similar study in Sweden of 600,000 found comparable results. While the difference between the groups of parents was smaller, single fathers were still more likely to have a higher mortality rate.

Learn more about the study here.

See more on family health from The Everyday Mom Life here and additional research and news stories here.


  1. My father was a single dad. One of my friends is one too. It’s interesting to see what the study stated. I do recall my father not asking for as much support as I do now that I’m a parent.

  2. What incredible research! I had no idea. It doesn’t surprise me, though. Parents with an equal partner/ support system have much less stress which leads to less health problems.

  3. I have so much respect for any single parent. The findings in this post were really interesting though, its great you have put it out there as awareness, hopefully single Dads can take comfort that they aren’t alone in how they feel and can seek help 🙂

  4. This is a very interesting research, and I do agree with their results. I think women find it more easier to reach out or ask for help than men, which might be one of the reasons for that high rate of death.

  5. This makes me want to reach out to single dads to make sure that they are ok. Thank you for sharing the results of this study in an easy to understand manner, it’s a really great service!

  6. This is a very interesting study. I would’ve never thought of this being something actually happening. But I do agree that most single dads would probably not be inclined to asking for help and taking some time for themselves.


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