We investigate how the presence and education of parents affect adolescents’ school attendance, work participation, and school attainment in Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Panama. Across the four countries, approximately 20% of adolescents live in single-mother families and 4% in single-father families. Adolescents who live in single-mother families have significantly lower school attendance and attainment than adolescents who live with both parents. However, the effects of living in a single-mother family are small relative to the effects of parents’ education. Adolescents who live in single-mother families are not more likely to work than adolescents in two-parent families. Finally, targeting benefits to children in single-mother families would reach more children at risk of poor school outcomes than targeting children in female-headed households.