After decades of decline in the number of “stay-at-home” moms in the U.S., the trend has reversed, with 29 percent of women with children saying they are not employed in the outside workforce, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.
The figure from 2012 is up from the all-time low of 23 percent in 1999.
Pew says: “The recent turnaround appears to be driven by a mix of demographic, economic and societal factors, including rising immigration as well as a downturn in women’s labor force participation.”
“Stay-at-home” mothers includes women who remain in the home to care for family as well as those who say they don’t work outside because they are unable to find work, are disabled or enrolled in school.
“The largest share consists of ‘traditional’ married stay-at-home mothers with working husbands. They made up roughly two-thirds of the nation’s 10.4 million stay-at-home mothers in 2012. In addition to this group, some stay-at-home mothers are single, cohabiting or married with a husband who does not work.”
The survey, published Tuesday, notes that 60 percent of Americans say children are better off with a parent at home, while 35 percent say they are just as well off if both parents work. Hispanics, white evangelical Protestants and those who never attended college are more likely to say a parent should be at home, while college-educated women are more likely to say it doesn’t make a difference.
Pew’s study also shows that stay-at-home moms tend to be younger, poorer and less educated than their working counterparts. But while married stay-at-home mothers with a working husband were far less likely to live in poverty (15 percent) than either those who were married to non-working husbands (74 percent) or were cohabitating (88 percent), single mothers (71 percent) actually fared slightly better than the latter two groups.
However, married mothers with working husbands were considerably more likely to be stay-at-home by choice, with 85 percent saying they did not work outside in order to care for family. Single mothers were least likely to say that (41 percent).