According to a recent study, there is a rising number of breadwinning moms compared to the numbers 50 years ago. While this is impressive it hasn’t been easy. And unfortunately, the challenges of being a woman and the primary breadwinner for your family continue.
The overall number of women in the workforce continues to decrease. In 1990, 74 percent of American women were in the labor force. As of the 2012, that number has decreased to 68 percent. Despite this, more mothers are becoming the breadwinners of their families. In a study from the Pew Research Center, it found that 40 percent of households with children under the age of 18 have mothers that provide either the sole or primary source of income for the family. This is an increase from 1960, when the rate was 11 percent.
Though these numbers seem encouraging, there are those that have panicked at the idea of women successfully providing for their families. But, few people share this view. About 79 percent of Americans reject the idea that women should return to their “traditional roles.” While some question how mothers being away from home will affect marriages and kids, others have found benefits of having two sources of income. About 67 percent of Americans believe that by working outside the home, women have made it easier for families to earn enough to live comfortably.
Education seems to be the contributing factor to the rising number of female breadwinners
In 1960, only seven percent of married women had higher education than their spouse. Today, that percentage has more than tripled to 23 percent. And today only 16 percent of married men have higher education than their spouse. Another factor is the rising number of single mothers who are the sole providers of their family. In 1960, 7.3 percent of American households had single mothers; in 2011 it had risen to 25.3 percent.
Even with more breadwinner moms, the number of American women in the workforce has fallen. In fact, a study issued by the National Bureau of Economic Research said that while the U.S. had the sixth highest female labor participation rate among the OECD countries in 1990, as of 2010 the U.S. fell to 17th. Why? Other countries have expanded their “family-friendly” policies: extending paternal leave, helping new parents find part-time work, and funding public childcare. Meanwhile, the U.S. has remained stagnant on such policies.
So, while 40 percent of American women are the breadwinners of their household, we as a country are not making it easier for these families. We continue to fall behind in global trends, making it harder for mothers to work. In fact, the lack of these “family-friendly” policies account for 30 percent of the deterioration in American women’s labor force participation rate. To learn more about these facts and figures, click here.