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Moms are top or solo breadwinner in 40% of households, study says

Studies have found little difference between the children of working mothers and stay-at-home mothers.
(Betsie Van Der Meer, Getty Images)

Moms are the top or sole breadwinner in 40% of households with kids in America, a record high rate, according to a new study.

The research by the Pew Research Center, released Wednesday, is based on an analysis of Census data. The rate of breadwinning moms has risen significantly from 1960 when it was 11%.

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The breadwinning moms represent either women with children under 18 who earn more than their husbands or single mothers, according to the study. These women number about 11 million.

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But the income gap between the two groups of women is significant.

The median family income of married mothers who earn more than their husbands was nearly $80,000 in 2011, compared to the national median of $57,100 for all families with children. The median income for single mothers was only $23,000, according to the study.

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The groups differ in other ways as well. Married mothers who out-earn their husbands tend to be older, white and college educated while single mothers are most likely to be young, black or Hispanic without a college degree, the study found.

Americans questioned about the trend say it is a two-edge sword.

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About three-quarters of adults (74%) say the increasing number of working moms has made it harder to raise kids, and half say that it has made marriages harder to succeed, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. At the same time, two-thirds say it has made it easier for families to live comfortably, according to the study.

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