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Mom making more than dad in one in four U.S. homes

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 29th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

On the surface, it appears to be good news: Mothers are making more than fathers in one out of four U.S. households. According to the Pew Research Center, this is true for homes where there is only the mother as the head of the household. Theses account for 40 percent of all American homes, a drastic difference to just 11 percent in 1960. There is a downside: there are now more single moms living at the poverty level in the U.S. than ever before.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - These figures indicate that educated women are catching up with men in the U.S. workforce. "It's a long-term trend since the '60s that the breadwinner moms have gone up," Wendy Wang, a Pew research associate and the lead author of the report said.

The poll found that in homes where married women are making more money than their spouses, 71 percent of the husbands are working and they have a median family income of $80,000, according to 2011 numbers.

In the Kennedy era, only four percent of married moms were making more than their husbands. In 2013, it's 23 percent. That translates into 5.1 million married "breadwinner moms."

Of these U.S. women making more than their husbands, 49 percent have a college degree or higher and 65 percent are white. They are also in their peak earning years; 67 percent of these women are between the ages of 30 and 50.

Researchers point out that these figures represent catching-up numbers for women. Females for many generations were not in the workforce at the same rate as men. The Pew study noted that despite the fact that mothers are now equally or more educated than their husbands, a majority of fathers still earn more than their wives.

Hollywood actresses and CEOs are often mentioned as examples of this trend.

Another part of the female breadwinner equation focuses on the steep rise in unwed mothers. In 1960, only five percent of the mothers were unmarried, but as of 2010, that rate increased to 41 percent. The median income for a single mom in the United States who has never been married was a paltry $17,400 as of 2011. This figure can include income, child support and government assistance.

Of the never-married mothers, 49 percent have a high school education or less and 46 percent are age 30 or younger.

How does the American public react to this news? "The public is really conflicted about the trend," Wang said.

Respondents said that they liked the economic benefits to families but also worried the work might take a toll on the children and marriages. About 67 percent said the change made it easier for families to earn enough money to live comfortably. About 28 percent said it was actually harder for families to earn enough, and 2 percent said it made no difference.

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