Pew: Women Primary Breadwinners in 40 Percent of U.S. Households

by Lindsey Grudnicki

A new study published by the Pew Research Center reveals that mothers are the sole or primary provider of income in a “record 40% of all households with children under the age of 18” in the United States.

Analyzing data from the U.S. Census Bureau for 2011, the report investigated changing gender roles, cases where married women out-earn their spouses, and the income of single mothers. The income gap between married and single mothers was “quite large,” as expected, but “both groups of breadwinner mothers, married and single, have grown in size in the past five decades.”

Among the key findings from the Center’s study was one quite interesting result: “The total family income is higher when the mother, not the father, is the primary breadwinner.” As women are increasingly better educated than their male counterparts, family incomes are beginning to reflect it – in 2011, the median income for couples where the wife is the primary wage-earner was approximately $2,000 more than it was for families in which the husband is the primary breadwinner.

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