Who Becomes a Stay-at-Home-Mother?


The Institute of Family Studies (IFS) posted some interesting research this morning about who in our society becomes a stay-at-home-mother. Of note, it’s mostly the rich and the poor, and it’s related to the cost of childcare:


Rich women can afford not to work, and poor women make less than they would pay for childcare. It’s the families in the middle who feel the crunch of astronomically high childcare costs, forced to work full-time in order to justify how much they’re spending on childcare.

Anecdotally, I’ve had a number of friends with advanced degrees who, despite wanting to work part-time or take some time off, remain in the workforce full-time in order to justify the time and expense of their degrees, and continue paying off loans.


Only one-third of mothers want to work full-time, and yet, many more do, thanks to the economic factors at play:


Again, anecdotally, this jives with my experience for the last five years being a stay-at-home mother. I chose to stay home for both economic and ideological reasons, but for most of my fellow stay-at-home friends, the choice was largely made because of money.

Taking all of this into account, it’s a shame we still frame the stay-at-home vs. working mother “mommy war” as purely ideological, when it is, statistically, anything but.

Published in Marriage
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There are 4 comments.

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  1. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne

    Thanks for the post. I love philosophy and debates but we need more data-driven articles. 

    • #1
  2. bernai Member

    I can only speak for my family but My wife and I made the decision for her to stay home when we were young marrieds and we fell right into the middle of the financial spectrum (was better if she worked but it would have been a wash with the costs of childcare).  Our decision was a combination of our religious convictions, my experience as a child of a single parent home and hers as a child of parents who also had a stay at home mother.  It was really a question of what was best for our children and the thought of delivering them to another’s care did not appeal.  We chose to tighten our belts and live within our means instead.  Before we made the decision the financial question weighed heavily on my mind but once we began our journey it became a non factor rather quickly.

    • #2
  3. Songwriter Inactive

    It was a long time ago for us (Our kids have kids now), but my wife came home from work for two reasons: 1. The cost of daycare for two basically ate up her entire paycheck, and 2) being in day care (AKA: Germ Factories) meant the boys were perpetually fighting illness. When they came home, they immediately got healthier.

    • #3
  4. Stad Coolidge

    We were fortunate in that my wife could work out of the house.  We had the best of both worlds – a stay-at-home mom with income . . .

    • #4
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