This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Women Do More Breadwinning; Probably Less Bread-making

Pew Research yesterday issued a new report on American families, based on American Community Survey data, supplemented with their own phone interviews. The conclusion: An unprecedented 40 percent of US households with children have a mother as a breadwinner, either solely or jointly. In 1960, the figure was 11 percent. CBS News reported on the story:
Demographers say the change is all but irreversible and is likely to bring added attention to child-care policies as well as government safety nets for vulnerable families. Still, the general public is not at all sure that having more working mothers is a good thing.
While roughly 79 percent of Americans reject the notion that women should return to their traditional roles, only 21 percent of those polled said the trend of more mothers of young children working outside the home is a good thing for society, according to the Pew survey."This change is just another milestone in the dramatic transformation we have seen in family structure and family dynamics over the past 50 years or so," said Kim Parker, associate director with the Pew Social & Demographic Trends Project. "Women's roles have changed, marriage rates have declined -- the family looks a lot different than it used to. The rise of breadwinner moms highlights the fact that, not only are more mothers balancing work and family these days, but the economic contributions mothers are making to their households have grown immensely."
To be sure, a majority of families, albeit a slim majority, are more "traditional," but keep in mind that the "traditional" male breadwinner system was created fairly recently by the rise of urbanization. In farm families in the past, everyone contributed to the family economy. It was only in urban areas that women were relegated to the economic back seat. Now, as the old saying goes, what goes around comes around.

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