Growing Number of Dads Home with the Kids
Preachers Mark Driscoll and Owen Strachan and other block-headed “gender complementarians” won’t like this news at all, because they measure manhood by standards set by television situation comedies and Hollywood – tough, macho guy image, a la John Wayne, or clean-cut Joe Cool who works a 9 to 5 while the little lady stays at home vacuuming the floor while wearing pearls – rather than by the Bible.
- Biggest increase among those caring for family
by GRETCHEN LIVINGSTON
The number of fathers who do not work outside the home has risen markedly in recent years, up to 2 million in 2012.1 High unemployment rates around the time of the Great Recession contributed to the recent increases, but the biggest contributor to long-term growth in these “stay-at-home fathers” is the rising number of fathers who are at home primarily to care for their family.
The number of fathers who are at home with their children for any reason has nearly doubled since 1989, when 1.1 million were in this category.2
It reached its highest point—2.2 million—in 2010, just after the official end of the recession, which spanned from 2007 to 2009. Since that time, the number has fallen slightly, driven mainly by declines in unemployment, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.3
While most stay-at-home parents are mothers, fathers represent a growing share of all at-home parents – 16% in 2012, up from 10% in 1989. Roughly a quarter of these stay-at-home fathers (23%) report that they are home mainly because they cannot find a job.
Nearly as many (21%) say the main reason they are home is to care for their home or family. This represents a fourfold increase from 1989, when only 5% of stay-at-home fathers said they were home primarily to care for family.
Still, the largest share of stay-at-home fathers (35%) is at home due to illness or disability.
This is in sharp contrast to stay-at-home mothers, most of whom (73%) report that they are home specifically to care for their home or family4; just 11% are home due to their own illness or disability.
A rise in the number of stay-at-home fathers is occurring side by side with another important parenting trend of the past half century: a rising share of fathers who don’t live with their children at all.5 About 16 percent of fathers with young children lived apart from all of their children.
… Stay-at-home fathers also tend to be older than stay-at-home mothers, which may partially explain why so many are home due to illness or disability.
Just 24% of stay-at-home dads are less than 35 years of age, but 42% of stay-at-home mothers are. And stay-at-home fathers are twice as likely to be 45 years or older (43% are, compared with 21% of stay-at-home mothers).
… The public is largely supportive of the idea of mothers staying at home with their children, but they place less value on having a stay-at-home father. In a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, fully 51% of respondents said children are better off if their mother is home and doesn’t hold a job. By comparison, only 8% said children are better off if their father is home and doesn’t work. On the other hand, 34% of adults said children are just as well off if their mother works, while 76% said the same about children with working fathers.
…About the Data
Analyses of the trends and demographic characteristics of U.S. fathers who live with their children are based on data from the 1990-2013 Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) of the Current Population Survey (CPS), which is conducted jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These data are collected each March and included about 90,000 household interviews in 2013.
The data were obtained from the Integrated Public Use Microdata database (IPUMS-CPS), provided by the University of Minnesota. Further information about the IPUMS is available at http://www.ipums.org.
The Pew Research Center analyses include all men ages 18-69 who report living with at least one of their own children (biological, step or adopted) younger than 18 years of age. Fathers are categorized as “working” or “stay-at-home” based upon their employment status during the prior year. This is generally similar to the approach adopted by the U.S. Census Bureau.