The employment of wives and mothers rose dramatically from 1960 to about 1990, and thereafter has leveled off. There was a small dip from 2000 to 2004, but employment rates had inched back to 2000 levels by 2006, the latest figures available. Contrary to recent press accounts, there has not been an “op-out” revolution. Rather than a strong downward trend, there has been a flattening out of the trend line, so that mothers’ employment has stabilized, with a majority employed. This strong upward thrust followed by a flattening of the trend holds for most groups of women.
Well educated women are especially likely to be employed, despite the fact that they generally have well educated, and thus high earning, husbands. Surprisingly, the percentage of married moms staying home doesn’t go up consistently as husbands’ earnings go up. In fact, it is women with the poorest husbands (in the bottom quarter of male earnings) who are most likely to stay home, followed by women with the very richest husbands (those in the top 5 percent of male earners).
The Council on Contemporary Families is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to providing the press and public with the latest research and best-practice findings about American families. Our members include demographers, economists, family therapists, historians, political scientists, psychologists, social workers, sociologists, as well as other family social scientists and practitioners.
Founded in 1996 and now based in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Miami, the Council’s mission is to enhance the national understanding of how and why contemporary families are changing, what needs and challenges they face, and how these needs can best be met. To fulfill that mission, the Council holds annual conferences, open to the public, and issues periodic briefing papers and fact sheets.Topics: Division of Labor in Families / Labor & Workforce / Work & Family