Historically, women have been expected to take on the bulk of childcare responsibilities, but research indicates that men are increasingly becoming stay-at-home parents.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, men who are of prime-age (defined as 25 to 54) are participating less and less in the workforce. More specifically, 88.5% of these men were actively looking for work or working last month, a dip of 9 percentage points.
Although men made up 5% of families with a stay-at-home parent, this rate is still a slight increase from levels since during the 1990s. However, Pew Research finds that dads made up 18% of all stay-at-home parents when considering any father of a child and those in same-sex relationships.
Societal expectations of men working while women are caregivers are seemingly shifting, albeit slowly.
“We’ve recast motherhood and what it means to be a mom in such a way that moms can be breadwinners, too, now,” said Richard Reeves, an author and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “But we haven’t recast fatherhood in such a way as to make it easier for men, both culturally and practically and economically, to become more hands-on fathers.”
However, it’s not just expectations that are evening out the caregiving playing field — research shows that one-third of women who are in relationships contribute at least half of a couple’s earnings.
“All those years of higher-education enrollments going up for women have now started to bear fruit,” said Jennifer Glass, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “They have jobs that are more stable, that provide health insurance, that are unlikely to go away during a recession.”