Lone-woman households tend to be characterized as single mothers with young children. But an increasing number are elderly women.
A widely accepted axiom holds that women head one-third of the world's households. However, it is claimed that aggregate figures published in the late 1990s by the UN fail to account for variation in the size of national populations. When different population sizes are allowed for, the figure for Latin America and the Caribbean falls from almost one in three to less than one in five households. Globally, one in five households was recorded as headed by a woman, and one in six in developing countries. The higher (one in three) figure has nonetheless slipped sidelong into discussions about households maintained by a woman.
In Mexico, Brazil and Peru: the average age of women reported as heading households is 50 years or more many female household heads are not the main breadwinner woman-headed households are more likely to be extended, as married sons or daughters remain with their mother and support her economically women heading extended households are less likely than other female heads to be economically active older women or men are often recognized as head of household by others even when economically inactive.