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Mothers are Breadwinners 40% of the Time, New Study Reports

Update Date: May 29, 2013 02:53 PM EDT
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A new study conducted by the Pew Research Center reported that women are increasingly becoming the top breadwinner of the household. The report found that now 40 percent of women are considered to be the primary earners of their households. This percentage jumped from the 1960's statistic that found that only 10.8 percent of breadwinners are female. Despite this new and large percentage, the startling finding was not that more females had larger salaries, but that there were fewer fathers in the mix.

The Pew report that used data from the Census Bureau found that many of the women who fell in the category of breadwinners were single mothers. The data found that 63 percent of the mothers with children under the age of 18 were the primary providers because they did not have a husband or partner to help them. Even though a recent survey found that teen pregnancies are declining, this study suggests that the trend of single and successful women having children on their own is increasing. A 2011 census found that over one in every four mothers with children under 18 is single. The census also found that nearly 36 percent of new mothers in 2011 were not married.

Aside from finding this increase in female breadwinners, the report also presented other data. For two-parent household families where the woman was the breadwinner, the median family income was $79,800. This number is $2,000 higher when compared to the median family income of a two-parent household where the father was the primary earner. On the flip side, single-fathers earn around $36,000 while single-mothers earn $23,000.

These numbers reveal that more women are working to support their families. The combination of work and caring for a family could affect women's mental statuses. Studies have found that working women who feel underappreciated in the household tended to be more susceptible to mental health issues. Other studies have found that working women could provide a better learning environment for children.

"It is clear from the data that we ran that in those two parent households where you've got a married mother who out-earns their husband, those are some of the most affluent family households in the country," the co-author of the report, Kim Parker said. Parker is an associate director of the Pew Social and Demographic Trends Project.

In another Pew survey done in April, 60 percent of people from 18 to 29-years-old felt that working women make it harder for parents to raise children. 36 percent of the people from this age group felt that women who work make marriages more difficult. These percentages were smaller when compared to the older age group.

These statistics could be very important for research studying family households and the effects of the parents' incomes.

The full report can be found here.

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