Today, women not only are primary family caregivers, but they’re also more likely to be the primary breadwinners, too. What’s sparked this economic revolution? More educated mothers are entering the workforce.
According to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, “breadwinner moms”—those who are the sole or primary source of income for their family—are on the rise. In 2011, 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 included “breadwinner moms.” This number has quadrupled since 1960.[i]
“Breadwinner moms” are part of a shift in family dynamics and social norms. Today, it’s more accepted to find educated women and mothers in the workplace. In fact, women comprise 47% of the U.S. labor force—almost half—and, in 2011, the employment rate of married mothers with children was 65%, up from 37% in 1968.[i]
Education is crucial to the success of this growing demographic. While the majority of couples have similar educational backgrounds, it’s becoming more common for women to have more education than their husbands. According to Pew, 23% of two-parent families have a mother who is better educated than her spouse—increasing from 7% in 1960.[i]
Not all “breadwinner moms” earn the same median wages.
The analysis revealed that the demographic is comprised of two subsets: 37% are married mothers who earn higher wages than their husbands and 63% are single mothers. In 2011, the median income was $80,000 for married mothers who earn higher wages than their husbands and $23,000 for families led by a single mother.[i]
Mothers who earn higher wages than their husbands tend to be college educated, while single mothers are less likely to have a college degree.
Married or single mothers looking to join the growing “breadwinner mom” demographic should keep in mind that education is key to improving their on-the-job skills and enhancing their professional qualifications. It may also lead them to better paying wages, ensuring a better way of life for themselves and for their children.