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Pew Report: 'Breadwinner Moms' Hit All-Time High

By Melanie Batley   |   Wednesday, 29 May 2013 08:32 AM

Nearly 40 percent of families with children younger than 18 are now headed by women who are the sole or primary breadwinners, a new report has found.

At the same time, Americans remain divided about whether mothers should be working outside of the home.

According to the Pew Research Center study released Wednesday which analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau, "breadwinner moms" are made up of two different groups: 37 percent are married mothers who have a higher income than their husbands, while 63 percent are single mothers.

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In 15 percent of families with two parents at home, moms now make more than dads, the report said. In 1960 that figure was 4 percent.

"The decade of the 2000s witnessed the most rapid change in the percentage of married mothers earning more than their husbands of any decade since 1960," Philip Cohen, a University of Maryland sociologist, told The Washington Post.

"This reflects the larger job losses experienced by men at the beginning of the Great Recession. Also, some women decided to work more hours or seek better jobs in response to their husbands' job loss, potential loss or declining wages."

But despite the larger role women have as providers, the report also shows that Americans still are uneasy about mothers working outside the home. In the report's public opinion survey of 1,003 adults conducted April 25-28, almost 75 percent of those surveyed say working outside the home makes raising children harder for mothers, and half of respondents said they think it could be bad for marriages.

"The public is really of two minds," said Kim Parker, one of the report's authors, according to the Post. Traditional gender roles, she said, "are a deeply ingrained set of beliefs. It will take awhile for those views to catch-up with the reality of the way people are living today."

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