More Moms Than Ever Are the Breadwinners

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In 40 percent of homes with children, Mom is the primary source of income for the family. Is that a good thing?

Whether it’s married moms who out-earn their husbands or single moms taking care of business, a record number of women provide for households with kids under 18.

In 40 percent of households with children, mothers are the only or primary source of income. In 1960, that was true in only 11 percent of homes with kids, a new Pew Research report says.

The data on these breadwinner moms comes mainly from the U.S. Census Bureau, but also from Pew surveys. Here are some of the big takeaways from the new report:

  • 37 percent of breadwinner moms (5.1 million) are married; most are single moms.
  • In the married group, the median household income was $80,000 in 2011; among single moms, it was $23,000.
  • Married moms are increasingly better educated, with 23 percent of those households having a wife who holds a higher degree than her husband.
  • The share of single mothers who have children from previous marriages dropped from 82 percent in 1960 to 50 percent in 2011.

The new Pew survey asked 1,003 adults how they feel about this trend. It found:

  • 74 percent say it’s become harder for parents to raise children.
  • Half say that it’s made having a successful marriage more difficult. 
  • Two-thirds say it’s easier for families to live comfortably.
  • 51 percent say children are better off with stay-at-home, nonworking moms, while just 8 percent say the same about fathers.
  • 28 percent said it’s generally better for a marriage for men to earn more than their wives.

There was “no significant gender gap” between the views of men and women in the new survey, Pew says. In general, men and women were on the same page.

What do you think? Is the trend of more women providing for the family a good one? Let us know on Facebook.

Stacy Johnson

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