Fatherlessness In Oklahoma

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 Oklahoma.


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.


310,000 Oklahoma children live in single-parent households, representing 35% of all Oklahoma children.

  • This includes approximately 46,000 Black children (66% of all Black children in the state), 63,000 Hispanic or Latino children (40% of all Hispanic or Latino children in the state), and 129,000 White children (27% of all White children in the state).

There were 21,149 births to unmarried women in Oklahoma in 2020, 44% of all births that year.

  • This includes approximately 12,086 Black children (77.6% of all Black children in the state) and 21,328 White children (36.2% of all White children in the state).

There are about 3,218 teen births in Oklahoma per year.

There were 8,052 children in foster care in Oklahoma as of 2020.

206,691 children have one or more emotional, behavioral, or developmental conditions in Oklahoma or 26% of all Oklahoma children.

105,859 children have a parent who was once incarcerated in Oklahoma or 11% of all Oklahoma children.


71% of Oklahoma 4th-graders scored “below proficient” in reading for their class level.

75% of Oklahoma 8th-graders scored “below proficient” in mathematics for their class level.

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

100,661 Oklahoma children ages 6–17 repeated one or more grades, 16% of all children in that age group.

15% of Oklahoma high school students do not graduate on time.


792,979 infants and children are receiving WIC benefits in Oklahoma.

There are approximately 173,405 Oklahoma children living in poverty, which is about 18.6% of all Oklahoma children.