Objectives. We examine voter turnout of inner-city African-American mothers, many of whom are single parents and endure long-term, economic hardship. Previous research suggests that income is a more important factor among these groups than in the general population. We seek to understand the interplay of family structure, income, and voter turnout.
Methods. We explore these ideas using panel data on 754 mothers living in Chicago and interviewed as part of the 1967–1976 Woodlawn Community Study.
Results. We find that marital status has no effect when women are younger but over time single parents' turnout falls behind that of married parents. This is primarily due to factors related to income and income change.
Conclusions. Single mothers have lower rates of participation and, given the high rates of single parenthood in segregated inner-city neighborhoods, this substantially diminishes the political voice of the nation's poor, contributing to class bias in the electorate.