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Bringing Home the Bacon: Rise in US Women as Breadwinners


More than 40% of US households with children under the age of 18 rely on women as the primary provider, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. This statistic is the  highest the percentage ever and a dramatic increase from 11% in 1960.

The study also found that the total family income is higher when the mother is the primary breadwinner. The national median for all families with children is $57,100, whereas the median total family income of married mothers who earn more than their husbands is $80,000.

What does this new data say about stay-at-home mothers? Wendy Wang, a research associate at the Pew Research center, explained, “”There’s still a big gap in that the public feels a mother should be the primary caregiver for children, but at the same time, we see women taking responsibility of being the primary financial provider for the family as well.”

About 74% of adults say that the rising number of women in the workforce has made it harder for parents to raise children, and about 50% say that the change has made marriages harder to succeed. However, 79% of adults reject the idea that women should return to traditional roles.

The “breadwinner moms” are made up of 63%  (8.6 million) single mothers and 37% (5.1 million) married mothers.  Both groups have grown in the past five decades. The study also revealed that married mothers are increasingly better educated than their husbands. The report explains, “In two-parent families today, 61% have a mother whose education level is similar to her husband’s, 23% have a mother who is better educated than her husband, and 16% have a father who is better educated than his wife.”

Educational opportunities are a major factor in the breadwinning trend. The report explains that married mothers who out-earn their husbands are usually older, white, and college educated.

The report contributes changing family dynamics to some of the dramatic changes. Today, it is more likely than ever before that single mothers will never be married. In addition, most people reject the idea that it is bad for a marriage if a wife out-earns her husband.






I am a junior and a Campus Correspondent for Connecticut College! I am majoring in American Studies and a PICA scholar. I was a High School Ambassador for HerCampus in 2010-2011 and a contibuting writer 2011-2012. I love writing, editing, and social media. This fall, I am a Student Coordinator for the Women's Center, a photographer for College Relations, and am also a member of SafetyNet. When I'm not writing, I love being outside and enjoy many many different types of music. I also enjoy shopping at the Container Store, sharpie markers, thunderstorms, onesies, Gilmore Girls, The Newsroom, New Girl, 60 Minutes, and The West Wing. 
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