Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 July 1998
This article briefly reviews American and British literature on welfare dynamics and examines the concepts of welfare dependency and ‘dependency culture’ with particular reference to lone parents. Using UK benefit data sets, the welfare dynamics of lone mothers are examined to explore the extent to which they inform the debates. Evidence from Housing Benefits data show that even over a relatively short time period, there is significant turnover in the benefits-dependent lone parent population with movement in and out of income support as well as movement into other family structures. Younger lone parents and owner-occupiers tend to leave the data set while older lone parents and council tenants are most likely to stay. Some owner-occupier lone parents may be relatively well off and on income support for a relatively short time between separation and a financial settlement being reached. They may also represent a more highly educated and highly skilled group with easier access to the labour market than renters. Any policy moves paralleling those in the United States to time limit benefit will disproportionately affect older lone parents.