Lone parent families and food poverty in three European countries
  • Room 211, Rolle Building, University of Plymouth

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In the years following the financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent so-called austerity measures in some countries, household food insecurity has risen in Europe, although there are differences between countries. 

Families with children - and lone parent families in particular - are vulnerable to poverty and household food insecurity, yet little is known about how food insecurity varies by family type across Europe, how it has changed over time or how different types of families manage food in the context of poverty. 

Drawing on a European Research Council funded mixed methods study of Families and Food in Hard Times (ERC grant agreement n° 337977), the talk brings together analysis of quantitative and qualitative data to address this gap. It focuses on three European countries that are contrasting in relation to austerity, poverty and lone parenthood: the UK, Portugal and Norway.

Analysing annual repeat cross sectional data from the European Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) for the years 2005 to 2016 it first examines the relationship between family type (lone parent vs. couple with children aged under 18 years, income poverty and household food insecurity in the three countries. Drawing on qualitative case studies of families in each of the three countries it then examines the resources available to particular families, the ways they ‘get by’ and how different dimensions of food poverty are negotiated and experienced by mothers and their children.

Speaker biography

Rebecca O’Connell is Reader in the Sociology of Food and Families, Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education. She is co-author, with Abigail Knight and Julia Brannen, of Living Hand to Mouth: Children and food in low income families (2019) and, with Julia Brannen, of Food, Families, and Work (2016). From 2014-19 she was Principal Investigator of the European Research Council funded study, Families and Food in Hard Times.

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