Researchers in Britain, who tracked nearly 13,500 children aged one to seven, found that living with a single parent or step-parents doubled their risk of developing emotional problems, poor behaviour and hyperactivity, reports the Daily Mail.
Separately, the study found almost a third of seven-year-olds living without either of their parents. 15 percent who lived with step-parents, and 12 percent from a single-parent family displayed serious behavioural problems, the government-funded report found.
Their emotional well-being was likely to be 'under considerable pressure', according to the Millennium Cohort Study, which is tracking children born in 2000.
Conversely, just six percent of children living with their parents developed similar behaviour.
"Living apart from one's natural father can be associated with poverty and negative outcome for the children," said co-author Lisa Calderwood of London's Institute of Education.
Children living with working parents, or parents with higher educational qualifications, were less likely to suffer behavioural problems, the study found.