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Stay-At-Home Moms And Dads Account For About 1 In 5 U.S. Parents

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More than 11 million U.S. parents – or 18% – were not working outside the home in 2016, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. That’s about 1 in 5 parents who stay home with their children in the United States.While the percentage of parents is about the same as it was back in 1989, there has been an increase in dads who stay home. The share of dads who stay at home has risen from 4% to 7%.

Meanwhile, the share of moms staying at home remained largely unchanged – 27% in 2016 versus 28% about 25 years ago, according to the analysis.

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Seventeen percent of all stay-at-home parents in 2016 were fathers, up from 10% in 1989, the first year for which reliable data on fathers are available. More dads are staying home than ever before.

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Credit: iStock / AndreaObzerova

There’s a growing share of stay-at-home fathers who are home specifically to care for their home or family, suggesting that changing gender roles may be at play. About a quarter (24%) of stay-at-home fathers say they are home for this reason. Stay-at-home mothers remain far more likely than dads to say they are home to care for family – 78% say so.

Interestingly among Millennial dads, 6% were home with their children in 2016, compared with 3% of Gen X fathers when they were a comparable age.

While the share of stay-at-home fathers is higher among Millennials, they share who are home specifically to care for their family rose modestly: 23% of Gen X stay-at-home fathers around 2000 said they were home to care for family, compared with 26% of Millennial stay-at-home dads today.

Over the years, there have been fluctuations of the rate of stay-at-home parenting. Around 2000, the share of stay-at-home moms hit a low of 23%, and the overall share of stay-at-home parents dipped to 15%.

But after the 2007 recession, the rates of stay-at-home parenting rose to 20% in 2010, driven in part by parents who were at home because they were unable to find work. This was particularly true of stay-at-home fathers, one-third of whom reported they were home for this reason in 2010.

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