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 gap…so 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 bias…my 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.

2 thoughts on “Thursday Quickies: Moms as breadwinners

  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.


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