Why More Dads are Staying Home with the Kids

The Pew Research Center keeps an eye on the state of life in the United States and even beyond the nation’s borders. One way they do that is by conducting polls, interviewing individuals, and reviewing trends in the online and offline media. One trend they’ve spotted recently is the growing number of dads staying home with the kids. Pew says the number of stay-at-home dads has almost doubled since 1989. They even know why this is happening.

Father and son cookingIn 1989, only about 10% of America’s households with kids had a father that stayed at home instead of holding down an outside job. By 2012, the percentage rose to 16%, representing almost 2 million households. Data from the US Census Bureau puts the number of at-home dads much lower, at approximately 214,000 in the entire nation.

Some dads choose to stay home with the kids simply because they want to, according to Pew. Others are home because of health reasons, unemployment, or other economic issues. Here are some of the things the Pew Research Center has learned about today’s stay-at-home fathers:

  • 21% in 2012 simply want this lifestyle
  • 5% in 1989 chose it
  • 23% were unable to find work in 2012
  • 15% couldn’t find work in 1989
  • 35% in 2012 are too ill or disabled to hold down a full-time job
  • 56% faced these health concerns in 1989
  • Working fathers are more likely in 2012 to have graduated from high school than in 1989
  • 8% of today’s working dads live in poverty
  • Approximately 50% of stay-at-home single dads live in poverty
  • 24% of stay-at-home dads are younger than 35
  • 42% of stay-at-home mothers are younger than 35

The number of mothers staying at home these days is growing, too. Many women struggle to find lucrative jobs in today’s economy. Many cannot find jobs that cover the cost of child care, a situation that makes working outside the home unrealistic.

Public opinion regarding who stays home with the kids is strongly in favor of moms being there:

  • 51% say kids are better off with mom at home
  • 8% say they’re better of with dad at home

The Pew report defines a stay-at-home parent as anyone, married or unmarried, who does not have a job outside the home and has at least one child younger than 18 in the household.


Source: Livingston, Gretchen. “Growing Number of Dads Home with the Kids.” Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends. Pew Research Center. Jun 5, 2014. Web. Jun 18, 2014.

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