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Survey finds rise in number of 'stay-at-home mothers' in America

April 08, 2014

The proportion of American women not working outside the home has risen sharply in the past decade, the Pew Research Center reports.

The number of American women who stayed home had dropped steadily for decades, reaching an all-time low of 23% in 1999. But by 2012 that figure had jumped back up to 29%, suggesting a reversal of a key social trend.

While economic difficulties undoubtedly played a role in the change, Pew found that “stay-at-home mothers” accounted for the largest proportion of those not working outside the home. However, a growing minority of those “stay-at-home mothers” are single women, or unmarried women living with partners.

The Pew study found that 60% of Americans believe that children are better served by having a parent at home, and—unsurprisingly—that mothers who stayed home devoted much more time to child care than women who worked outside the home.

Among the women who stay home, 85% told Pew that their primary reason was to care for their children. Some apparently made sacrifices toward that end; mothers who stayed at home were substantially more likely to live in poverty, although those who were married to a working husband were much better off.


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