Report

After Decades of Decline, A Rise in Stay-at-Home Mothers

  • April 08, 2014
The share of mothers who do not work outside the home rose to 29% in 2012, up from a modern-era low of 23% in 1999, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data.1 This rise over the past dozen years represents the reversal of a long-term decline in “stay-at-home” mothers that had persisted for the last three decades of the 20th century.2 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.

The broad category of “stay-at-home” mothers includes not only mothers who say they are at home in order to care for their families, but also those who are at home because they are unable to find work, are disabled or are enrolled in school.

The largest share consists of “traditional” married stay-at-home mothers with working husbands. They made up roughly two-thirds of the nation's 10.4 million stay-at-home mothers in 2012. In addition to this group, some stay-at-home mothers are single, cohabiting or married with a husband who does not work.

Read the full article on the Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends.