Female headed households (% of households with a female head)

Definition: Female headed households shows the percentage of households with a female head.

Description: The map below shows how Female headed households (% of households with a female head) varies by country. The shade of the country corresponds to the magnitude of the indicator. The darker the shade, the higher the value. The country with the highest value in the world is Ukraine, with a value of 49.40. The country with the lowest value in the world is Afghanistan, with a value of 1.70.

Source: Demographic and Health Surveys.

See also: Country ranking, Time series comparison

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Development Relevance: The household is regarded as the fundamental social and economic unit of society. Transformation at the household form, therefore, has impact at the aggregate level of a country. An increasing number of female-headed households (FHHs) in developing countries are emerging as a result of economic changes, economic downturns and social pressures, rather than as a product of cultural patterns. In many developing countries of Asia and Latin American, there has been a significant increase in the percentage of FHHs. The majority of women in FHHs in developing countries are widowed, and to a lesser extent divorced or separated. In the developed countries most female-headed households consist of women who are never married or who are divorced. The feminization of poverty - the process whereby poverty becomes more concentrated among Individuals living in female-headed households - is a key concept for describing FHH social and economic levels.

Limitations and Exceptions: The definition of female-headed household differs greatly across countries, making cross-country comparison difficult. In some cases it is assumed that a woman cannot be the head of any household with an adult male, because of sex-biased stereotype. Caution should be used in interpreting the data.

Periodicity: Annual

General Comments: The composition of a household plays a role in the determining other characteristics of a household, such as how many children are sent to school and the distribution of family income.