Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thursday Quickies: Moms as breadwinners

I've seen a few headlines in the past few days about the study that showed that moms are breadwinners in 4 out of 10 households.  It's based on this Pew Research study, and I feel like there's a few nuances not made clear in the headline:
  • The denominator was not women or couples, the denominator was "households with children under 18".  Thus any women without children or whose children are over 18 were not counted.
  • 63% of the female breadwinner households were single mothers
  • Of the 37% who were not single mothers, the only requirement was that they out-earn their husband.  There is no mention of a minimum a wife who earns $1000/year more than her husband is counted the same way a wife earning $50,000/year more is counted.  
Also interesting:  married households with female breadwinners have an income of four times more than households with a single female at the head ($80,000/year vs $23,000/year).  Households with a male breadwinner have a median income of about $78,000/year.  This shows some interesting selection guess is that women who earn high salaries and out earn their husbands are less likely to quit/drop to part time when kids come on the scene.  Since part of the normal debate around working/not working post-baby is "does my salary cover daycare costs", it would make sense that women who could answer a resounding "yes" would be more likely to stay on and keep the family income higher.


  1. The stark contrast between married and unmarried households is more interesting (to me) than the set of definitions for "mom" and "household" that produced the 40% number.

    1. Yeah, those numbers are fairly compelling huh?