Study ...children of single parents and de facto couple families don't perform as well as those from married couple families.

Study ...children of single parents and de facto couple families don't perform as well as those from married couple families.

The children of married parents have better educational and social outcomes than those raised by de facto couples or single mothers, according to new research.

But the report, published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies today, said the differences were unlikely to be attributed to marital status.

Children in married families are doing better than the other groups, but the difference isn’t due to marital status. 

The study of almost 5000 children found that while the children of married couples reported higher levels of learning and emotional development, the differences were due to factors such as finances, education levels and parenting approaches.

Researcher Lixia Qu said it was the typical characteristics of a wedded family that led to better outcomes for their children, rather than the marriage certificate itself. “Children in married families are doing better than the other groups, but the difference isn’t due to marital status,” she said.

“It's largely due to the characteristics of the families, like financial and parenting resources.”

The mother’s education and employment were among the most influential factors. In the study, 31 per cent of the married mothers had a university degree or higher level of education, compared with 15 per cent of single mothers.

Married mums were also more likely to be employed, and married couples were less likely to experience financial hardship.

De facto parent families were worse off financially than married parent families, with single mothers ranking last.