The number of families headed by a single parent has increased by nearly 30 per cent in the past 10 years, according to new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
The figures, contained in the CSO's Measuring Ireland's Progress document, released on Tuesday, showed the number of lone parent families whose youngest child was less than 20 went from 113,900 in 2001 to 148,000 in 2010.
The figures showed that the number of female-headed lone parent families increased by nearly a third (32.8 per cent), while the number of male-headed lone parent families barely budged.
The figures also showed that Ireland had the lowest divorce rate in the EU. However, two-thirds of Irish marriages which break-up do not end in divorce, but in legal separation.
The figures showed that Ireland had 0.8 divorces per 1000 persons, compared to the EU average of 2.0 divorces per thousand persons. Belgium, with 3.3 divorces per head of population, had the highest divorce rate in the EU.
CSO figures from 2006 showed that marital breakdown in Ireland (divorce and separation combined) had increased by nearly 500 per cent between 1986 and 2006.
The figures showed that, in 1986, there were 40,347 separations. By 2006, the combined number of separations and divorces had reached 198,592.
Tuesday's report also showed that Ireland had the highest Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in the EU. The TFR is a measure of how many children are born each year per woman of childbearing age. According to the figures, Ireland's TFR in 2009 was 2.07, compared to the EU average of 1.6.
In order to replace its population, a country needs a TFR of 2.1.
By comparison, Germany's TFR is 1.36, while Italy's is 1.44 and Spain's 1.40.
Ireland also had the highest proportion (31.7 per cent) persons aged under 15 as a percentage of those aged 15-64 in the EU. We also had the lowest proportion (16.8 per cent) of those aged 65 and over as a percentage of those aged 15-64 in the EU.
The report also showed that we had the same percentage gap in average pay between men and women (men on average were paid 16 per cent more than women) as that of Sweden, slightly below the EU average (17 per cent).
The figures do not take into account the fact that far higher numbers of women do part time work compared to men.
Slovenia has the lowest gender pay gap in the EU, at three per cent, with Italy having the second lowest, at six per cent.