More and More, Ladies Are the Family Breadwinners (And Loving It)S

A new study from the Pew Research Center that analyzed census data found that the number of women who bring home that thick-cut bacon (aka breadwinner moms) is steadily rising; it's at a record 40 percent, up from 11 percent just 50 years ago. If those gaping numbers don't impress you, women report actually wanting this change; the number of women that were happy with being moneymakers has risen 12 percent in the past five years.

Some of the most interesting findings reveal that total family income is actually higher when the mother is the breadwinner and not the father, and that married mothers have a higher likelihood of having had more schooling than their spouse than they used to.

Other stuff that's mostly stayed the same:

  • Half the people surveyed said that it's better for the kids if mom stays home, while only eight percent said that about dad.
  • A lot of people still think single mothers are a "big problem", but there are less of these people than there used to be and they're definitely not young, which means hopefully with them, these ideas will fade away. Republicans are more than 25 percent more likely than Democrats to have an issue with single mothers. White people are more likely than minorities to create a hubbub about all of the single moms ruining the fabric of society.

This last point points to the stark differences within this rising class of female worker bees; it's still disproportionately divided into single mothers – who have a much lower income than their sisters in breadwinning – and mothers who simply earn more than their husbands but still work within a two-parent household. Unsurprisingly, these groups are visually stark when placed against one another:

"Compared with all mothers with children under age 18, married mothers who out-earn their husbands are slightly older, disproportionally white and college educated. Single mothers, by contrast, are younger, more likely to be black or Hispanic, and less likely to have a college degree."

In an article for the Associated Press about the study, researchers said that these recent results are just the latest in the way the family structure and relationships have been shifting. So here's a question: Will there be a time that statistics about same-sex couples are incorporated into a typical male/female breadwinning study, or will they always be regulated elsewhere? And on a larger level, will those untraditional relationships change the dynamic and way we think about what gender earns what in two-parent and single parent homes?

Breadwinner Moms [Pew Research]

Mothers Now Top Earners in 4 in 10 U.S. Homes [AP]

Image by Jim Cooke