April 24, 2014

Among Hispanics, immigrants more likely to be stay-at-home moms and to believe that’s best for kids

Hispanic, Foreign Born MothersOf all U.S. mothers, Hispanics are among the most likely to report that they are at home with their children. Fully 38% of Hispanic moms living with their children younger than 18 are not working outside the home, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.

Our recent report found a slight increase in the total share of all U.S. mothers who stay at home with their children, according to 2012 data. While a majority of all mothers work outside the home for pay, 29% stay home, an increase since 1999, when 23% did so.

But in a closer examination of the numbers, Hispanic women stood out as being especially likely to be at home, and this was even more pronounced among Hispanic immigrants, 44% of whom are not working outside the home. Among Asian mothers 36% are stay-at-home moms, but just one-fourth of black and white moms fit that category. 

So, why do Hispanic moms stand out? One factor might be related to attitudes about what’s best for children. Hispanics in general are far more likely than non-Hispanic whites or blacks to say that children are better off when a parent stays home to focus on the family.  Fully 73% say as much, compared with 57% of whites and of blacks.

What's Best for Children?Views among Hispanics born in the U.S. mirror those of all Americans—about six-in-ten believe that kids are better off if a parent stays home to focus on the family, according to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey.  But a far larger majority—85%–of foreign-born Hispanics say that children are better off if a parent is at home.

Differences in educational attainment might also help to explain why Hispanics born in the U.S. are less likely to be stay-at-home moms than those born elsewhere are. More education is associated with a much higher likelihood of working outside the home among mothers, perhaps due to the fact that those with higher education are more likely to be able to find work that pays enough to justify the cost of child care.  Just 58% of foreign-born mothers have at least a high school diploma, compared with 84% of Hispanic mothers born in the U.S.

Among Hispanic stay-at-home moms, the demographic profiles of native-born and foreign-born moms are quite different. Fully three-quarters of foreign-born stay-at-home mothers are married, with a working husband. In comparison, just more than half (56%) of native-born stay-at-home moms fit this category. Instead, a relatively large share—30%—are single moms, as compared with just 13% of foreign-born stay-at-home moms.

As is the case among all mothers, among all Hispanic mothers, it is the stay-at-home moms who are less financially well-off than the working moms. Among the native born, 42% of at-home moms are living below the poverty line, as are 16% of working moms.  And among the foreign born, the share living below the poverty line is 47% among stay-at-home moms, and 23% among working mothers.

Topics: Parenthood, Work and Employment

  1. Photo of Gretchen Livingston

    is a Senior Researcher at the Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project and the Pew Social & Demographic Trends Project.

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1 Comment

  1. Simon Adair6 months ago

    I think that this has a lot to do with education. It is definitely a good thing for kids though. Keeping families together has been shown to reduce crime. Having a stay at home parent is a very good thing in my book.

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