WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More American mothers are staying at home with their children, a trend driven in part by rising immigration and women unable to find jobs, a Pew analysis released on Tuesday showed.
Twenty-nine percent of U.S. mothers, or about 10.4 million women, stayed at home in 2012, up from a low of 23 percent in 1999 in a reversal of three decades of decline.
The category of stay-at-home mothers with children under 18 includes women who are at home to care for their families and mothers who cannot find work, are disabled or in school, the Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data said.
About two-thirds of stay-at-home mothers are married with working husbands, down from 85 percent in 1970 as U.S. marriage rates have fallen and the number of single mothers has risen, the analysis said.
Twenty-eight percent of U.S. children, or 21.1 million Americans younger than 18, were being raised by a stay-at-home mother in 2012, a jump of 4 percentage points from 2000.
One in five U.S. children are living in a household with a married stay-at-home mother and her working husband. The figure has fallen from 41 percent in 1970 as more mothers went to work and the number of single mothers went up, the analysis said
Six percent of stay-at-home mothers said they were home with their children because they could not find a job, up from 1 percent in 2000.
“With incomes stagnant in recent years for all but the college-educated, less educated workers in particular may weigh the cost of child care against wages and decide it makes more economic sense to stay home,” the Pew analysis said.
About a third of stay-at-home mothers were living in poverty, compared with 12 percent of working mothers.
About two in five mothers at home were younger than 35, compared with 35 percent of working mothers. Forty-nine percent have a high school diploma or less, compared with 30 percent of working mothers.
Fifty-one percent of mothers at home are white, compared with 60 percent of those who are working. A third of stay-at-home mothers are immigrants, compared with 20 percent of working mothers, the survey showed.
The rising U.S. immigrant population “may account for some of the increase in the share of stay-at-home mothers,” it said.
Reporting by Ian Simpson; editing by Matthew Lewis