Breadwinner Moms on a Rise in America But What Does it Mean for Black Moms

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On May 29th a study by the Pew Research Center revealed that 40% of households with children under the age of 18 now have mothers who are the sole or primary source of income for the family. The study also revealed single mothers, who make up 25.3% of the 40%, are more likely to be young, less educated African-American women.
The study, entitled “Breadwinner Moms: Mothers are the Sole or Primary Provider in Four-in-Ten Households with Children: Public Conflicted about the Growing Trend”, took data on the most recent Census.

The study, which analyzed mothers as a whole, also analyzed the “breadwinner moms” and concluded what compromised the group. The “breadwinner moms” can be dissected into two distinct groups: married mothers, who out earn their husbands, made up 37% of the group and single mothers, made up 63%.

The study defined single mothers as mothers who never married, divorced, widowed, separated or married but spouse is not in the household.

The dichotomy between the “breadwinner moms” is extensive. The median income for married mothers is $80,000, while the median income for the single mother household is $23,000. The married mothers are more likely to be slightly older, white and college educated while the single mothers are more likely to be black or Hispanic and less likely to have a college degree.

This is not news to the African-American community, According to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 72% of children in the African-American Community live in a single-parent home, and 3 out of 4 African-American children are born out of wedlock.

Despite the dichotomy, women of both groups have an increased presence in the workplace. The study concluded women made up almost half of the U.S. labor force today, and the employment rate of married mothers with children has consistently increased from 1968 until 2011.

The study determined that the increase of women in the workplace, and becoming the breadwinners in the family, is most likely due to the impact of the recession. These women are going to work and earning more, not because the opportunity is there, but because they have to provide for their families.

Overall, the study concluded nothing that was not assumed previously. However, it did prove the assumptions to be fact. It also concluded the attitude towards mothers who work is changing in America. More citizens are ok with the mother going out to work, while also supporting her family.

Tatiana M. Brown is a native of Washington, D.C. who is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism at Hofstra University. Follow her @TatianaMBrown or check out her website, or contact her at

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