Working mothers are now the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of households with children under the age of 18, according to a new Pew Research Center study. In 1960, the share was just 11 percent.
The Pew Research Center analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau and found the top earning moms are made up of two different groups: 5.1 million (37 percent) are married mothers who have a higher income than their husbands, and 8.6 million (63 percent) are single mothers, the study said.
Researchers speculate the growth is due to women's increasing presence in the workplace. According to the study, women make up almost half (47 percent) of the U.S. labor force, and the employment rate of married mothers with children has increased from 37 percent in 1968 to 65 percent in 2011.
"The old stereotype about single moms was that they were sitting at home having babies and collecting welfare checks," said Christina Gibson-Davis, faculty fellow at the Center for Child and Family Policy and associate professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University. "This report shows that’s not true: a large proportion of single moms are out in the workforce."
While many recognize the clear economic benefits to families, the Pew Research Center survey also found that many are concerned about the toll that having a working mother may take on children or even marriage.
"About three-quarters of adults (74%) say the increasing number of women working for pay has made it harder for parents to raise children, and half say that it has made marriages harder to succeed," according to a Pew news release. "At the same time, two-thirds say it has made it easier for families to live comfortably."
The survey also found while the vast majority of Americans (79%) rejected the idea that women should return to their traditional roles, the public still sees moms and dads in a different light when it comes to evaluating the best work-family balance for children.
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