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Breadwinner Moms

Breadwinner Moms

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Published by Newsday

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Published by: Newsday on May 29, 2013
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May 29, 2013
Breadwinner Moms
Mothers Are the Sole or Primary Provider in Four-in-Ten Households withChildren; Public Conflicted about the Growing Trend
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACTPew Research Center1615 L St., N.W., Suite 700Washington, D.C. 20036Media Inquiries:202.419.4372www.pewresearch.org
PEW SOCIAL & DEMOGRAPHIC TRENDSwww.pewsocialtrends.org25.315.0010203040501960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010
Married mother/primaryproviderSingle mother
Breadwinner Moms
Mothers Are the Sole or Primary Provider in Four-in-Ten Households withChildren; Public Conflicted about the Growing Trend
 By Wendy Wang, Kim Parker and Paul Taylor
 A record 40% of all households with childrenunder the age of 18 include mothers who areeither the sole or primary source of income forthe family, according to a new Pew ResearchCenter analysis of data from the U.S. CensusBureau. The share was just 11% in 1960.These “breadwinner moms” are made up of two very different groups: 5.1 million (37%)are married mothers who have a higherincome than their husbands, and 8.6 million(63%) are single mothers.
 The income gap between the two groups isquite large. The median total family income of married mothers who earn more than theirhusbands was nearly $80,000 in 2011, wellabove the national median of $57,100 for allfamilies with children, and nearly four timesthe $23,000 median for families led by asingle mother.
 The groups differ in other ways as well. Compared with all mothers with children under age 18,married mothers who out-earn their husbands are slightly older, disproportionally white andcollege educated. Single mothers, by contrast, are younger, more likely to be black or Hispanic,and less likely to have a college degree.
Based on Pew Research Center analysis of 2011 American Community Survey, the unit of analysis is the household head, singlemothers who are not the head of household (e.g., single mothers living with parents) are not included in the count. Similarly,married couples in which neither of the spouses is a household head are not included in the analysis.
The income gap between the two groups remains when using personal income as the measure. The median personal income of married mothers who out-earn their husbands was $50,000 in 2011, compared with $20,000 for single moms. Both personal andfamily income was self-reported. There is a small difference between the median personal income of single mothers and theirfamily income. It could be due to financial contributions of other adult family members such as a cohabiting partner or a parent.
Mother as the Sole or PrimaryProvider: 1960-2011
% based on households with children under age 18
Note: Single mothers include mothers who are nevermarried, divorced, widowed, separated, or married but thespouse is not in the household.Source: Pew Research Center analysis of the DecennialCensus and American Community Surveys (ACS) IntegratedPublic Use Microdata Sample (IPUMS) filesPEW RESEARCH CENTER
BREADWINNER MOMSwww.pewsocialtrends.org28 5074673519
Families to earn enoughto live comfortablyMarriages to besuccessfulParents to raisechildren3476518
Better off withmother homeBetter off withfather homeJust as well off if mother worksJust as well off if father works
The growth of both groups of mothers is tied to women’s increasing presence in the workplace. Women make up almost of half (47%) of theU.S. labor force today, and the employmentrate of married mothers with children hasincreased from 37% in 1968 to 65% in 2011.
 The impact the recession may have had on thistrend is unclear.
 However, a Pew ResearchCenter survey conducted in November 2012found that mothers’ views about whether andhow much they would like to work hadchanged significantly since 2007 (before therecession officially began). The share of mothers saying their ideal situation would beto work full time increased from 20% in 2007to 32% in 2012. And the share saying they  would prefer not to work at all fell from 29% to20%. A new Pew Research Center survey finds thatthe public remains of two minds about thegains mothers have made in the workplace–most recognize the clear economic benefits tofamilies, but many voice concerns about thetoll that having a working mother may take onchildren or even marriage. About three-quarters of adults (74%) say the increasingnumber of women working for pay has made itharder for parents to raise children, and half say that it has made marriages harder tosucceed. At the same time, two-thirds say it hasmade it easier for families to live comfortably.
See Kim Parker and Wendy Wang, “Modern Parenthood: Roles of Moms and Dads Converge as They Balance Work and Family,”  Pew Research Center Social & Demographic Trends project, March 14, 2013.
Trend analysis is based on Decennial Census data. There may be fluctuations within each 10-year period which are not reflectedin the chart on p.1.
Women, Work and Families
% saying the increasing number of women working for pay outside the home has made it easier/harder for …
Note: “Hasn’t made much difference” and “Don’tknow/Refused” responses not shown.Source: Pew Research Center survey, conducted April 25-28,2013, N=1,003.PEW RESEARCH CENTER
The Public Differs in Role of Fathers and Mothers
% saying children are …
Note: The questions were asked separately for mothers andfathers. Responses of “Just as well if mother/father works” and “Depends” are not shown.Source: Pew Research Center survey, conducted April 25-28,2013, N=1,003.PEW RESEARCH CENTER

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