There are more mothers staying home with their children since the recession ended, but that is mostly because they can’t find jobs, according to a Pew Research Center report released Tuesday. Almost three out of 10 mothers with children under age 18 are staying home, the report found.
The number of mothers who don’t work outside the home rose to 29 percent, up from 23 percent at the turn of the 21st century, according to the report.
Several factors contributed to the increase, including more immigrant mothers, who tend to stay home with their children more than U.S.-born mothers do, and more women who are unable to find work. In 2000, just 1 percent of mothers said they stayed home because they couldn’t find work. That grew to 6 percent in 2012.
Despite the recent shift, writes The Post’s Carol Morello, just 20 percent of all married mothers with children under 18 stay at home, half the number who did in 1970.
But how happy are parents who do work these days? According to a new Working Mother Research Institute report, Millennial parents are much happier with their work/life choices, and they are more ambivalent about the current state of work/life balance than the generations before them.
Millennials are much more likely to say they would prefer to work even if they didn’t have to financially (47 percent), versus Gen X (37 percent) or Boomers (36 percent). Meanwhile, Gen X working parents are much less likely to feel they are fulfilling a higher purpose through their work (13 percentage points lower than Millennials).
Why? Gen X has “a front-row seat to work-life tensions,” said Jennifer Owens, Working Mother Research Institute director, in a statement.
In other words, Boomers had the difficult task of breaking with tradition in terms of having two working parents. Gen X had things a little easier, and they paved the way for Millennials. With each generation, it’s gotten a little less difficult to try to have both a family and a career, according to the study. There seems to be a little more flexibility, a little more understanding, a little less animosity toward mothers who work outside the home. It also means to me that society, as a whole, is focused on what’s best for their own families — whether that means staying at home, or staying on the career track.
Here’s hoping those who want jobs can do that, too.
Are you happier at work than your mother was? Have you decided to stay home? Tell us about it in the comments below or tweet at us at @OnParenting.