Skip to main content


Cohen, Philip N. (2006). Not All Boats: Disability and Wellbeing among Single Mothers. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity.


In the late 1990s economic expansion and the new welfare policy led to a dramatic growth in employment, and pushed down rates of welfare receipt among single mothers. Because employment increases reached so far down the economic ladder and official poverty declined, moreover, a conventional wisdom emerged that American had turned a corner with respect to poverty and its attendant social ills. Andrew Natsios spoke for many when, in the summer of 1999, he wrote, “Americans are wealthier, more lawabiding, and more willing to work in a booming economy, which gives credence to the old adage that a rising tide lifts all boats.” However, largely unnoticed at the intersection of these trends, and beginning in the early 1990s, was a decline in employment for a smaller and less visible population: single mothers with disabilities. That divergence turns out to be at the center of the growing disparity in wellbeing between single mothers with disabilities and the general population of single mothers that is the core issue for this report. As we will see, this disparity has important implications for the relationship between work, family and the state in the United States.

Reference Type


Year Published



Cohen, Philip N.