More dads staying at home with kids because they must, new study shows

Fathers represent a growing share of all at-home parents, doubling since 1989

By Daddyhood Staff
Posted on Jun 6, 2014 - 9:19am


Stay-at-Home-DadThough the reasons why vary, the number of fathers who do not work outside the home has jumped dramatically since 1989, a new Pew research study shows.

There are now about two million stay-at-home dads in the U.S.

Roughly a quarter of stay-at-home fathers (23%) report that they are home mainly because they cannot find a job.

Nearly as many (21%) say the main reason they are home is to care for their home or family.

Those numbers represent a fourfold increase from 1989, when only 5% of stay-at-home fathers said they were home primarily to care for family.

The largest share of stay-at-home fathers (35%) are at home due to illness or disability, which is different than mothers, where just 11% are home due to their own illness or disability and most of whom (73%) report that they are home specifically to care for their home or family.

Rise in stay-at-home dads

The jump in stay-at-home fathers is due to another trend: A rising share of fathers who don’t live with their children at all. About 16 percent of fathers with young children lived apart from all of their children.

As is the case among mothers, stay-at-home fathers are less well-off financially and have lower educational attainment than their working counterparts.

At-home fathers are twice as likely to lack a high school diploma as working fathers (22% vs. 10%). And almost half (47%) of stay-at-home fathers are living in poverty, compared with 8% of working fathers. This poverty figure is even higher than among stay-at-home mothers (34% of whom are in poverty), and may be due, in part, to the fact that stay-at-home fathers are far less likely to have a working spouse than stay-at-home mothers (50% vs. 68%) and are more likely to be ill or disabled than stay-at-home mothers (35% vs. 11%).

Stay-at-home dads are older

Stay-at-home fathers also tend to be older than stay-at-home mothers, which may partially explain why so many are home due to illness or disability. Just 24% of stay-at-home dads are less than 35 years of age, but 42% of stay-at-home mothers are. And stay-at-home fathers are twice as likely to be 45 years or older (43% are, compared with 21% of stay-at-home mothers).

The public is largely supportive of the idea of mothers staying at home with their children, but they place less value on having a stay-at-home father. In a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, fully 51% of respondents said children are better off if their mother is home and doesn’t hold a job. By comparison, only 8% said children are better off if their father is home and doesn’t work. On the other hand, 34% of adults said children are just as well off if their mother works, while 76% said the same about children with working fathers.

Daddyhood Staff

Compiled by the staff of Daddyhood and