More U. S. Moms Are Choosing to Stay Home With Their Children

stay-at-home mother

After decades of decline, the share of mothers who stay home with their children has steadily risen over the last several years, a new report has found.

In 2012, 29% of all mothers with children under age 18 stayed at home, a figure that has steadily risen since 1999 when 23% of mothers were stay-at-home, the Pew Research Center reported Tuesday. The share of stay-at-home moms had been dropping since 1967, when about half of all moms stayed home.

Pew attributed the rise of stay-at-home mothers to a mix of demographic, economic and societal factors. The vast majority of married stay-at-home mothers, 85%, say they are doing so by choice in order to care for their families. That rate is much lower for single stay-at-home mothers, at 41%, and cohabitating mothers, at 64%.

The report also found a drop in women working because of the recession, a trend that has lingered as the economy recovers. Pew cited an increase in immigrant families, for whom it is more common to have a mother stay at home with her children, and an increase in the number of women who said they were disabled and unable to work.

A companion public opinion survey by Pew, from 2013, found that mothers are much more likely than fathers to have reduced work hours, take a significant amount of time off, quit a job or, by a small margin, turn down a promotion in order to care for a child or family member. Pew said 42% of mothers said they had reduced their work hours to care for a child or family member, versus 28% of fathers.

A second Pew survey, taken this year, found most in the general public think that children are better off with a parent at home: 60% said children are better off with a parent at home, versus 35% who said kids are just as well off when parents work.

The survey of 3,341 people was conducted in January and February. Groups most likely to say kids are better off with a parent at home include Hispanics, people with a high school degree or less and evangelical Christians, the report said.

The Pew analysis of trends for stay-at-home moms is based on an analysis of data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. It defines stay-at-home mothers as those who say they are staying home in order to care for their children, as well as those who are not able to find work, are disabled or are enrolled in school.

“This has important implications for the day to day lives of children,” said D’Vera Cohn, the report’s author.

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SOURCE: The Wall Street Journal
Laura Meckler

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