NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Two Working Parent Families Now The Majority

October 24, 2000

For the first time since the Census Bureau began keeping records, families in which both parents work have become the majority among married couples with children. Based on data from 1998, both spouses were employed at least part time in 51 percent of married couples with children, compared with 33 percent in 1976. Other findings from the Census Bureau report:

  • Even married or single mothers with very young children were likely to work at least part time.
  • Fifty-nine percent of women with babies young than a year old were employed in 1998, compared with 31 percent in 1976.
  • For older women, the numbers were higher.
  • Of the 31.3 million mothers ages 15 to 44 whose children were older than a year, 73 percent worked in 1998 and 52 percent worked full time.

Families in which both parents were employed had higher incomes than those in which only one worked. According to the report, 55 percent of the dual-employed couples had annual incomes of $50,000 or more, compared with 40 percent of families in which only the husband worked. Other factors were at work as well:

  • Among college-educated women, 68 percent of those who had had a baby within the past year were employed, compared with just 38 percent of those who had not graduated from high school.
  • Fifty percent of the separated, divorced and widowed women with infants were working full time, compared with 39 percent of those who were married and 24 percent of those who had never married.

Source: Tamar Lewin, "Now a Majority: Families With 2 Parents Who Work," New York Times, October 24, 2000


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