More American dads are staying home with their kids … but the reasons why might surprise you.
According to a new Pew analysis, the number of fathers who aren’t working outside the home has almost doubled over the last two decades. There are now as many as 2 million stay-at-home dads across the country, compared to around 1.1 million back in 1989.
Still, it seems the bulk of full-time fathers aren’t staying home for parenting or personal reasons—but because they have few alternatives. During the tail end of the recession in 2010, the number of stay-at-home dads hit an all-time high of 2.2 million, likely driven by high rates of unemployment at the time. Today, the majority say they are at home with the kids either because they are unable to find a job (23%) or because they are ill or disabled (35%).
On the bright side, the percentage of dads staying at home mainly because they want to care for their kids is steadily on the rise. (In 1989, a mere 5% of fathers said they stayed at home in order to care for family, while 21% said the same in 2012.) Possibly bolstered by the rise of breadwinning women and shifting gender roles, fathers who stay home by choice currently make up the fastest growing subset of stay-at-home dads.
Want to find out why one real stay-at-home dad made the switch? Read his story here.