In a record-breaking 40 percent of U.S. households with children under 18, mothers are either the primary or sole breadwinner, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
According to the analysis, the share of primary breadwinning moms was just 11 percent in 1960.
The study highlights two distinct groups under the umbrella of "breadwinner moms." The first group is made up of about 5.1 million married mothers who earn more than their husbands. This group makes up 37 percent of the total "breadwinner" cohort. The second group is made up of 8.6 million single mothers who form 63 percent of the cohort.
"The income gap between the two groups is quite large. The median total family income of married mothers who earn more than their husbands was nearly $80,000 in 2011, well above the national median of $57,100 for all families with children, and nearly four times the $23,000 median for families led by a single mother," notes the report.
The study also highlights that the married mothers who earned more than their husbands tended to be slightly older than their partners, college educated and disproportionately white. The single mothers, meanwhile, tended to be younger, were more likely to be black or Hispanic and less likely to have a college degree.
Women, notes the report, currently make up nearly half of the labor force, 47 percent, while the employment rate of married mothers with children has increase from 37 percent in 1968 to 65 percent in 2011.
The share of mothers who preferred to work full-time also increased from 20 percent in 2007 to 32 percent in 2012.
When it comes to American sentiment on single mothers, some 64 percent feel that the growing trend is a "big problem." Young people, however, are less concerned about the trend than older adults. More whites are also likely to see the growing trend of single mothers as a "big problem" and men and women are equally divided on the issue.
Other highlights of the analysis point out that the total family income is higher when the mother, not the father, is the primary breadwinner; married women are increasingly better educated than their husbands and most people reject the idea that it is bad for a marriage if the wife out-earns her husband.
Data for the report came mainly from Pew Research analysis of multiple years of Census Bureau data as well as a recent Pew Research survey conducted by landline and cellular telephone April 25-28, 2013, among a nationally representative sample of 1,003 adults living in the continental United States.