According to a new Pew Research analysis, there are now about 2 million stay-at-home dads in the US — a figure that has has nearly doubled since 1989.
Like their stay-at-home-mom counterparts, few of these dads are high-earners who are “opting out.” They’re more likely to poor and less educated. Most, in fact, aren’t choosing to stay home to care for their kids — the majority can’t find a job or have an illness or disability. The 21 percent who say they’re home to take care of family is way below the three-quarters of stay-at-home moms who say the same — though it’s definitely up from just 5 percent in 1989.
Overall, SAHDs make up a tiny 1 percent of all married couples with kids. SAHMs outnumber SAHDs by 100 to 1. In general, though men are spending more time on child care than ever before, mothers still do about twice as much. And there’s plenty of evidence that this gap persists thanks to structural barriers — not personal desires. About half of both working fathers and mothers said they would prefer to be at home raising their children, but they need to work because they need the income. (Ya don’t say!) Dads are twice as likely as moms to feel like they aren’t spending enough time with their kids. And roughly equal numbers of both genders say they’re stressed juggling work and family life.
I’ll say again say what I said about the growing number of stay-at-home moms: Very few people in this country have a real choice when it comes to how they balance work and family, and we need policy changes to fix that.
Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.