My mother stopped working the second my dad returned from a three-year military stint overseas during World War II. Men were supposed to be the breadwinners back in the day. My goodness, what a burden for them! Staying home with little kids isn’t exactly a picnic, but it was the dad—and the dad alone—who worried about earning enough to feed, clothe and educate them.
My, how women have changed! Let me share some fast facts on women and the economy from an analysis by the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress:
1. Women are co-breadwinners or primary breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of American families. (from The New Breadwinners, by Heather Boushey and Ann O’Leary.)
2. In 2009, 34 percent of working mothers are their families’ sole breadwinner, either because their spouse was unemployed or out of the labor force or because they were heads of household.
3. Wives’ incomes comprised 36 percent of family income in 2008.
4. In the past quarter century, it has taken two earners to get ahead: between 1983 and 2008, married couples with a working wife experienced annual income growth of 1.12 percent, while married couples with a stay-at-home wife saw their average annual incomes decline by .22 percent per year.
I’m all for a woman staying home with her kids, if she and her husband agree that’s what they both want. I’m also a big fan of househusbands (my former husband, Douglas, was one of the first in the US in 1981.)