Before taxes and transfers, over 56 percent of single-mother families in the United States are poor compared with 29 percent in Sweden. This report examines why single-mother families are much more likely to experience poverty in the United States. Factors contributing to the economic vulnerability of single-mother families are the same in both countries, but the policy approaches quite different. The relatively good economic position of single-mother families in Sweden is the result of public policies that address the causes of poverty, not correct for its effects. The paper highlights the failure of the U.S. policy to encourage the combination of work and family, and recommends that, to improve the economic well-being of single-mother families, the United States pursue policies to promote gender equity and reduce income inequality in the whole population.