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A new report released by the U.S. Census Bureau finds that the 5.6 million stay-at-home mothers in 2007 were younger and more likely to be Hispanic and foreign-born than mothers who were in the labor force. Nearly one-fourth of all married-couple families in the U.S. had a stay-at-home mother.
The term "stay-at-home" is used to describe the father or mother in a family who stays home to care for the children while the other spouse is in the labor force.
"This report represents the first time the Census Bureau has done this type of analysis of stay-at-home moms," said Rose Kreider, family demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau. "It not only provides a snapshot of today's stay-at-home mothers, it also allows us to study trends in basic household and family composition."
The report, America's Families and Living Arrangements: 2007 [PDF], also shows that the number of people living alone has risen from 17 percent in 1970 to 27 percent in 2007, and the average household size has declined from 3.1 people in 1970 to 2.6.
Stay-at-home mothers were younger than other mothers -- 44 percent were under age 35, compared with 38 percent of mothers in the labor force.
More than one-quarter (27 percent) of stay-at-home mothers were Hispanic, compared with 16 percent of the other mothers. Stay-at-home mothers were less likely than mothers in the labor force to be non-Hispanic white (60 percent of stay-at-home moms compared with 69 percent in the labor force) or black (4 percent compared with 9 percent).
About one third (34 percent) of stay-at-home mothers were foreign-born, while less than one-fifth (19 percent) of the other mothers were foreign-born.
A higher percentage of the stay-at-home mothers had an infant in the household -- 28 percent -- compared with 21 percent of other mothers. Fifty-seven percent of stay-at-home mothers had a preschool age child (under 5), compared with 43 percent of mothers in the labor force.
While 19 percent of the stay-at-home mothers had less than a high school degree, the same was true for only 8 percent of mothers who worked. Thirty-two percent of the stay-at-home mothers had at least a bachelor's degree, compared with 38 percent of the other mothers.
Prior reports in this series were based solely on the Current Population Survey, examining detailed information about family structure and characteristics over time. This report, America's Families and Living Arrangements: 2007 [PDF], also utilizes the American Community Survey to provide information about how family and household characteristics vary across geographic areas.
Utah had the highest percentage of households with children under 18 maintained by married couples (82 percent), while Washington, D.C., had the highest percentage of households with children under 18 maintained by a single parent (54 percent). Among the states with the highest percentage of households with children under 18 maintained by unmarried partners were New Mexico (10 percent) and Maine (9 percent).
Nationally, 62 percent of children in married-couple households had both parents in the labor force. The states with the highest percentages included South Dakota, Vermont and North Dakota. In contrast, Arizona and Utah had the lowest percentages.
Other highlights from the report:
These data are from the 2007 American Community Survey (ACS) and Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the 2007 Current Population Survey (CPS). As in all surveys, these data are subject to sampling and nonsampling errors. For more information about the source of the CPS data and accuracy of the estimates, see Appendix G at <https://www.census.gov/apsd/techdoc/cps/cpsmar07.pdf>. [PDF] For more information about the source and accuracy of the data from the ACS, see <https://www.census.gov/acs/www/Downloads/ACS/accuracy2007.pdf>. [PDF]