Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global Inclusion and Social Development

First Advisor

Dimity Peter

Second Advisor

James L. Soldner

Third Advisor

Nada M. Ali


Unmarried women over the age of 60 continue to experience disproportionate rates of adult poverty in the United States, while families headed by single mothers experience the highest poverty rates. This study explores the long-term impact of single motherhood on financial wellness through the perspective of Hispanic/Latina women ages 60 and over who have experienced single motherhood in Massachusetts. A transdisciplinary study, it utilizes intersectionality as a theoretical framework, employs feminist standpoint informed inquiry methods to document lived experiences through in-depth interviews, and engages diffraction as a mode of praxis as it intra-acts with narratives and explores the systems and structures participant lives are entangled with.

As it explores the perspectives and narratives of participants regarding their experiences with single motherhood and their financial well-being, this research documents and shares the voices of this often neglected and excluded population. It considers the notion of single motherhood within the public imaginary, and its influence on the phenomenon and lived experience of single motherhood. In doing so it engages with impacts of single motherhood on long-term financial well-being in a way that could inform future research as well as inform the development, enhancement, and/or revision of public policies.

A key finding of this research is the role of stigma and shame on financial well-being and its multifaceted entanglement with financial wellness. Stigma and shame are explored diffractively through an intersectional lens as it intra-acts with facets of participant identity such as single motherhood, race and ethnicity, and immigration status. Another finding of this research is the role of structural and systemic barriers that intra-act with participant lives and impact their financial wellness. This study considers the impact of material structures including policies and practices, as well as social systems including problematic aspects of resilience, public perceptions, and popular myths, on the lives of participants. Finally, this study highlights the need for further research into the possible links between experiencing single motherhood and rates of poverty among unmarried women, especially women of color, over the age of sixty.