Stay-at-home American dads rose along with joblessness

Thu Jun 5, 2014 10:52pm EDT
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By Ian Simpson and Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of U.S. fathers staying at home nearly doubled since the late 1980s, led by a sharp rise in child care by dads, a report on Thursday showed.

High joblessness during the 2007-2009 recession helped boost the number of stay-at-home dads to 2 million in 2012, up from 1.1 million in 1989, the report by the Pew Research Center said.

Almost a quarter of those fathers said they were at home because they could not find a job. But 21 percent were mainly staying home to care for family, a fourfold increase from 1989, the Pew report showed.

Senior researcher Gretchen Livingston said the findings underscored experts' belief that gender roles between men and women were converging, with men taking on more caregiving tasks and women increasingly becoming breadwinners.

"This increase in the number and share of stay-at-home dads would certainly fit with that," she said.One sign of convergence is that the amount of time that fathers are spending with their children has tripled since the 1980s, she said.

Michael Gariepy, a 34-year-old resident of Sanford, Florida, decided to stay home to raise his son after he was laid off several years ago and took a less appealing job in customer service, shortly before his wife was due to give birth.

"It didn’t make sense to have someone else raise our child when we could cut back on our expenses and ... get to raise our child," said Gariepy, who decided to return to school at night.

As he considers returning to the work force now that his son is 21 months old, Gariepy faces the question of whether he will be able to earn enough to cover child care expenses and commuting costs and still justify the change for his family.   Continued...

A man carries a child on his shoulders as they search for a Christmas tree to cut at the Rum River Tree Farm in Anoka, Minnesota, December 8, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Miller