What Does the Rise in Women As Sole Breadwinners Mean For Children?


A New York Times story published Wednesday contains data compiled by Pew Research about women who work in America. The overall theme of the article is best expressed by the title “U.S. Women On The Rise As Family Breadwinners.”

Here are several observations made by Pew:

-Four in ten American households with children under 18 years include a mother who is either the sole or primary earner. This is the highest total on record and quadruple the 1960 number.

-Two-thirds of women who are chief breadwinners are single parents.

-Many men have lost jobs in male-dominated construction and manufacturing sectors. Women have had to obtain jobs to support their families.

-Fifty percent of Americans say most children are better off if their mothers stay at home.

-Single mothers are more likely to be black or Hispanic and earn an average of $23 thousand.

-Of all married couples, 24% include a wife earning more, as compared to 6% in 1960.

-Twenty three percent of women had more education in married families. In 17%, men had more education.

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe Wednesday morning, Joe Scarborough was adamant that couples should discuss “working” issues before they marry, along with the religion of their children and what schools they will attend. This is a wise suggestion. However, when a couple is in love, it is difficult for them to consider pregnancy protection, much less whose going to take care of their unborn kids.

There are two very disturbing items in the aforementioned observations by Pew: (1) Two thirds of women who are chief breadwinners are single parents (2) These women are more likely to be black or Hispanic earning very low wages. These social groups really need to focus on the plight of young, unmarried mothers. Too often, they will have very hard lives if they succumb to unprotected sex. Birth control assistance is good for women and for the state.

It does not surprise me that more American mothers are working in these difficult economic conditions. My concern is that their children may be receiving less attention as a result.