The number of mothers who stay at home rather than hold jobs outside the home has risen significantly in the past 15 years, according to a report issued by the Pew Research Center in Washington, DC. In 2012, 29% of all mothers in the United States did not work outside the home. That's up from a low of 23% in 1999.

The Pew Research Center is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts. The research center describes itself as "a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world," according to its website. The center uses public opinion polls, demographic analysis, media content analysis, and other social science research databases to formulate its findings.

Working mother and baby at homeThe Pew report included all women in the US between the ages of 18 and 69 who were living with at least one of their own children younger than 18. For the sake of analysis, children were defined as biological, adopted, and stepchildren. Stay-at-home mothers are those who choose to stay home to care for children, those who would like to work but can't find a job, are disabled, or are attending school themselves.

The Pew analysis began in 1967, when 49% of all mothers stayed at home. The number dropped steadily each year until bottoming out in 1999.

The group suggests several factors driving the rise in stay-at-home mothers today: demographics, economics, and societal influences. Immigration is on the rise, for example, and many foreign-born mothers stay at home with the children (33% stay at home; 20% get jobs). Women are also turning away from the workforce rather than pursuing careers as had been the trend in the last few decades of the 20th century.

The report indicates:


  • Stay-at-home mothers tend to be younger and less educated than mothers who work outside the home.
  • 42% of stay-at-home moms in 2012 were younger than 35.
  • 35% of working mothers were younger than 35.
  • 49% of nonworking mothers either have a high school diploma or did not complete high school.
  • 30% of working mothers match that education status.
  • 51% stay at home with a child 5 years old or younger.
  • 41% of working mothers have children that young.
  • 51% of stay-at-home mothers are white.
  • 60% of working mothers are white.
  • 34% of stay-at-home mothers live below the poverty level.
  • 12% of working mothers live in poverty.

Twenty percent of all children in the US in 2012 are being raised in households that include a married stay-at-home mother and a working father. Five percent have a single stay-at-home mom. Two percent live with two parents not working and one percent live with a cohabiting mom who does not work.

Source: Cohn, D'Vera, Gretchen Livingston, and Wendy Wang. "After Decades of Decline, A Rise in Stay-at-Home Mothers." Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends. Pew Research Center. Apr 8, 2014. Web. Apr 21, 2014.

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