Fatherlessness In North Dakota

December 21, 2022

By Jack Brewer

Fatherhood is foundational to strong families, and strong families are essential to a strong Nation. An absent father affects all aspects of a child’s life, from socio-cognitive and socio-emotional development to academic performance and criminality—and unfortunately, the effects of fatherlessness are visible in North Dakota.


Approximately 18.4 million children in the U.S. live without a biological father, stepfather, or adoptive father present in the home.

23% of children in the U.S. are raised by a single parent. This is more than three times the world average (7%) of children raised by a single parent and the highest rate of any country on Earth.

Approximately 41% of children are born to unwed mothers. For women under age 30, the unwed birth rate increases to 53%.

Fathers are absent in approximately 80% of single-parent homes.

Fatherless children are more likely to suffer from psychosocial development issues, live in poverty, drop out of school, engage in school violence, abuse substances, and enter the juvenile justice system.

63% of youth suicide victims, 90% of all homeless and runaway children, 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutes, 85% of youths in prisons, and 80% of rapists come from fatherless homes.


48,000 North Dakota children live in single-parent households, representing 28% of all North Dakota children.

There were 3,302 births to unmarried women in North Dakota in 2020, 33% of all births that year.

There are about 319 teen births in North Dakota per year.

There were 2,104 children in foster care in North Dakota as of 2020.

33,995 children have one or more emotional, behavioral, or developmental conditions in North Dakota or 23% of all North Dakota children.

About 3,000 teens ages 12–17 have abused alcohol or drugs in the past year in North Dakota.


66% of North Dakota 4th-graders scored “below proficient” in reading for their class level.

63% of North Dakota 8th-graders scored “below proficient” in mathematics for their class level.

26% of North Dakota 4th-graders are considered “chronically absent” from school.

5,672 North Dakota children ages 6–17 repeated one or more grades, 5% of all children in that age group.

12% of North Dakota high school students do not graduate on time.


31,541 children receive SNAP benefits in North Dakota, for 16.5% of all North Dakota children.

15,424 infants and children are receiving WIC benefits in North Dakota.

There are approximately 19,263 North Dakota children living in poverty, which is about 10.9% of all children.