LANHAM, Md. (WNEW) — According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, the percentage of U.S. mothers who don’t work outside the home has risen over the past 10 years after decades of decline.

The share of stay-at-home moms in the population hit a “modern-era low” of 23 percent in 1999, and has since risen to 29 percent. The last time 29 percent or more of U.S. moms were considered “stay-at-home” according to the data, was in the late 1980s.

The “stay-at-home” mom label includes mothers who choose to stay home in order to care for their families, but also those who are at home because they are unable to find work, disabled or in school.

In 2012, about two-thirds of stay-at-home moms had husbands in the workforce. The remaining third were single, cohabiting or married with a husband not in the workforce. Comparatively, in 1970, about 85 percent of stay-at-home moms had working husbands.

The data also shows that a larger percentage of stay-at-home moms are living in poverty today — 34 percent in 2012 compared with 14 percent in 1970. A growing share of stay-at-home moms (6 percent in 2012 compared with 1 percent in 2000) say they are home with their children because they cannot find a job.

“The economic ups and downs of the past decade likely influenced mothers’ decisions on whether to stay home or go to work,” the study says.

The report also notes that the recent rise in stay-at-home moms “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, and is set against a backdrop of continued public ambivalence about the impact of working mothers on young children.”

Other interesting findings from the study:

  • 60 percent of Americans say children are better off when a parent stays home to focus on the family and 35 percent say they are just as well off when both parents work outside the home.
  • Hispanics, white evangelical Protestants and those who never attended college are more likely to say children are better off with a parent at home. College-educated women are among the most likely to say children are just as well off if their parents work outside the home.
  • Mothers who don’t work tend to spend more time on child care and housework than working mothers, but they also report having more time for leisure and sleep.
  • Stay-at-home mothers are younger, poorer and less educated than their working counterparts. 34 percent of stay-at-home mothers are poor, compared with 12 percent of working mothers. Stay-at-home moms are also less likely to be white and more likely to be immigrants.

To read the full study, click here.


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