New Study Finds Moms Are the Primary Breadwinners in 40 Percent of American Homes — Yeah, Moms!

Photo: Thinkstock / The Bump
Photo: Thinkstock / The Bump

Today, the world took one giant leap for female-kind! A new study conducted by the Pew Research Centered found that America’s working mothers are now the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of households with children. Oh yeah, mamas!

To give some idea as to how far working mothers have come and how family dynamics have changed, in 1960, only 11 percent of working moms brought home for the bacon for their families. For working mothers, in 1968 only 37 percent of working women were moms. Today, that percentage has nearly doubled in size, with 65 percent of working women being mothers.

The current Pew Research findings highlight the growing influence of “breadwinner moms” who keep their families afloat financially in a struggling economy. The research points out that while most are headed by single mothers, a growing number of working moms are from families with married mothers who bring in more income than their husbands. Scientists and demographers in the study say that the change is all but irreversible, noting that these milestone markers for working mothers will bring more attention to childcare policies in the government as well as funding for vulnerable families. Yet, in the face of such a huge success for women and for families, some are still wary about increasing the number of working mothers. Despite the fact that 79 percent of Americans are against the belief that women should return to their traditional roles — only 21 percent of those polled said that the trend of more mothers of young children working outside the home is a good thing for society.

According to the Pew study, roughly 3 in 4 adults said that increase the number of women working for pay has made it harder for parents to raise children. Kim Parker, associate director with the Pew Social & Demographic Trends Project said, “This change is just another milestone in the dramatic transformation we have seen in family structure and family dynamics over the past 50 years or so. Women’s roles have changed, marriage rates have declined — the family looks a lot different than it used to. The rise of breadwinner moms highlights the fact that, not only are more mothers balancing work and family these days, but the economic contributions mothers are making to their households have grown immensely.”

About 45 percent of women say that children are better off if their is at home, while 38 percent of women say that children are just as well off if their mother is working outside the home. For men, only 29 percent say that children are just as well off if their mother works while 57 percent say that children are better off if their mother is at home.

The rise of working moms can be attributed to higher rates of education and even long-term demographic changes, like labor force participation beginning in the 1960s. Today, more than ever before, more women hold bachelor’s degrees than men do — and they make up nearly half (just 47 percent) of the American workforce. But shorter-term demographic changes, too, have helped women. Job losses in manufacturing and construction — typically industries that catered to a largely male population — have helped boosted female earnings.

In 13.7 million U.S. households with children younger than 18-years-old, mothers are the main breadwinners. From that 13.7 million, 5.1 million (37 percent) of those women are married, while 8.6 million (63 percent) are single mothers.

Are you surprised to see moms taking over as breadwinners?

Plus, more from The Bump:

The Truth About Being a Working Mom

Here’s to Having it All: Balance Your Mom Life and Career

The Truth About Being a Single Mom