More Moms Are Staying Home, But Not Because They Want To

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Many mothers stay at home because they can't find work or they can't afford child care.

Fewer moms are rushing off to work in the morning. A new study shows that American mothers are increasingly staying home with their children, reversing a decades-long modern family trend.

The number of mothers who don’t work outside the home surged to 29 percent in 2012, up from 23 percent in 1999. According to the Pew Research Center:

The recent turnaround 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.

After I had my first baby almost four years ago, I opted to cut my 40-hour workweek in half so I could spend more time with my daughter at home. In November 2013, with a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old in tow, I made the difficult decision to transition from a working mom to a stay-at-home mom.

I wanted to focus on my children, and I don’t regret my decision for a second.

From a financial standpoint, day care is expensive. A big portion of my paycheck was going straight to child care. Plus, I’m fortunate that my husband makes enough money that my staying at home was a feasible option for our family. I’m also now working from home, which is really the best of both worlds.

But I’m not the norm when it comes to stay-at-home mamas. According to CNN Money, Pew describes a typical stay-at-home mom like this: poor, more than a third live below the poverty line, 49 percent are minorities, and nearly half have just a high school education or less.

CNN Money added, “These are mothers who stay home because they can’t find work, they can’t afford child care, and other reasons like cultural preferences, disabilities, or enrollment in school.”

The number of stay-at-home moms spiked in both 2000 and 2007, years that coincide with economic downturns.

According to Bloomberg, report author D’Vera Cohn said the majority of women would like to be in the workplace in some form. “There may be a ceiling to how much stay-at-home motherhood can increase,” she said.

CNN said some economists believe that America’s lack of family-friendly labor laws could partly be to blame for a reduction of moms in the workplace.

Twenty-six other countries in the world have higher labor force participation from women, and they tend to be countries that grant long paid parental leaves (not to just mothers, but fathers as well).

The United States remains the only major industrialized country in the world that doesn’t mandate some sort of paid parental leave.

Does it surprise you that the number of stay-at-home moms is on the rise in the U.S.? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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