Breadwinning Mothers, Then and Now

Source: Sarah Jane Glynn, Center for American Progress, June 20, 2014

…In this report, we update Boushey’s analysis using the most recent data available on the status of working mothers as breadwinners or co-breadwinners. We offer new insights into the demographics of mothers whose earnings help keep their families afloat. We find that the trends first identified in “The New Breadwinners” remain in effect but that breadwinning mothers are not all cut from the same cloth. We compare mothers who are single breadwinners, married breadwinners, married co-breadwinners, and married with no earnings along a number of demographics in order to better understand the patterns and context within which mothers combine wage earning with caregiving. We find notable differences among the groups in terms of family income, race and ethnicity, educational attainment, age, and the age of the youngest child. Despite these nuances and differences, one striking fact remains: The days of the full-time, stay-at-home mom are long in the past for most families, and there is no indication that patterns will revert back to those of the 1960s. The fact that so many women are economically responsible for themselves and their families shows how far women have come in terms of education, career advancement, and their own economic independence. But we still have a long way to go….