In 1967 the share of mothers who did not work outside the home stood at 49%; by the turn of the millennium it had dropped to just 23% (see chart 1). Many thought this number would continue to fall as women sought to “have it all”. Instead, the proportion of stay-at-home mothers has been rising steadily for the past 15 years, according to new data crunched by the Pew Research Centre.Share
This partly reflects demographic change. Immigrants, a rising share of the relevant generation, are more likely to be stay-at-home mums than women born in America. There is an economic component to the change, too: at the end of the 1990s, when mothers staying at home were at their rarest, the economy was creating so many jobs that most people who wanted work could find it. Now more report that they are unable to do so, or are studying in the hope of finding work later. But there is also an element of choice: a quarter of stay-at-home mothers have college degrees.
Taken as a whole, the group includes mothers at both ends of the social scale (see chart 2). Some are highly educated bankers’ wives who choose not to work because they don’t need the money and would rather spend their time. (Read more,)