Study: More Women Are Becoming Stay-at-Home Moms

mother playing with kids on the floor

A new study based on detailed analysis of government data through 2012 appears to show that economic pressures have become a major factor in the surge of moms who are staying at home with their kids. It also reveals a new picture of the typical stay-at-home mom.


Senior writer D'Vera Cohn of the Pew Research Center is one of the authors of this new report, which reveals that many women are becoming stay-at-home moms at least partly because they can't afford child care costs and other expenses associated with going back to work, especially if they can't get a job that pays well.

The study found that 29 percent of moms with children under age 18 were stay-at-home moms in 2012, up from 23 percent in 1999. Cohn says there has been an increase in the number of moms who said they are at home with their children because they can't find a job. The researchers also found that Hispanic, Asian, and immigrant mothers are more likely than their peers to stay home full-time. Additionally, the least-educated mothers are most likely to be at home. About 21 percent of college-educated women stay home with their kids, compared to 35 percent of high school graduates and 51 percent of moms with less than a high school diploma.

Only a small fraction of today's stay-at-home moms do so because they are opting out of high-pressure careers. Researchers found that women with at least a master's degree and a family income of more than $75,000 made up just 5 percent of married stay-at-home moms with working husbands. This new picture of moms who stay home with their children may be at odds with the stereotype many people have of wealthier, more educated mothers who make the choice to stay home because they can afford not to work.