October 1 2009
New Census Data Make Shaky Claims About Stay-at-Home Moms
The Washington Post has a front-page story this morning on new census figures regarding stay-at-home mothers. According to the data released yesterday, they report that stay-at-home moms appear to be disproportionately younger and less educated. The article suggests this data debunks the much-discussed trend referred to as the "opt-out revolution" - a phrase used to describe the decision by professional women to leave the fast track and stay at home with their children.
There appear to be problems, however, with the categories in the analysis. The report seems to define stay-at-home moms as women "who did not work in the previous year." But, this would surely leave out a large proportion of professional women who stay at home but still continue to work part-time. Professional women have increasingly gained flexibility in the workplace, allowing them more opportunities to successfully balance work and home.
An additional problem is that the category "stay-at-home mom" includes families with children under the age of 15. Again, it seems likely that highly educated women who stay at home with young children would return more quickly to the work force after their children reach school age.
Stay tuned for more analysis of the census numbers.