The number of stay-at-home dads is increasing

Alexander Fishkov

Alexander Fishkov, Ph.D. student Computer Science

The growth of principles of equal opportunity for the genders brings change to the traditional family structure. Many women choose to pursue their career instead of being a housewife, while some men decide to take raising children into their own hands. Today we will use the Census’s American Community Survey and Current Population Survey to see how the number of stay-at-home dads has changed in the last decade.

The first question to ask is who exactly should be called a stay-at-home dad? Is the lack of a job their definitive characteristic? It is in fact a starting point for the Census definition of a stay-at-home father: not in the labor force in the last year for the reason “taking care for home and family”, has children under 15 and wife in labor force for the entire previous year. This definition gives a very low number: less than 1 percent of all married couples, although it grew 21 percent from 2007 and is now 200,000. A non-profit organization, the National At-Home Dad Network, considers this definition as the most inaccurate: it leaves behind fathers who work part-time, from home or go to school.

The organization’s own definition of a stay-at-home dad is “any father who is the regular primary caregiver of his children”, emphasizing that job status is not a definitive characteristic. Note that many fathers who are not currently at work and fall under this definition may still not list “taking care for home and family” as the main reason for their unemployment.

The National At-Home Dad Network also refers to a paper by Beth Latshaw, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Appalachian State University as the most accurate count of at-home dads. Using ACS 2005-2007 data, Professor Latshaw calculated that number of stay-at-home dads is as high as 1.4 million. The paper describes four criteria for estimating the number of stay-at-home fathers from the ACS.

Since the publication of the paper, in 2009-2010 ACS 2005-2007 data was corrected and subsequent survey data is also available. Below we present a more recent estimation of the number of stay-at-home dads using methods based on the ones introduced by prof. Latshaw. All the methods below count fathers having household children under 18 years old.

Method 1 Married fathers who worked 20 hours or less per week in the previous year
& have spouses who worked 30 hours per week or more in the previous year
Method 2A* Married fathers who worked 26 weeks or less in the previous year
& have spouses who worked 27 weeks or more in the previous year
Method 2B* Married fathers who worked 13 weeks or less in the previous year
& have spouses who worked 48 weeks or more in the previous year
Method 3 Married fathers who are not currently at work & have spouses who are
currently employed & at work

* Differs from original paper because 2010 and 2013 ACS use brackets for number of weeks worker in past 12 month instead of single values.

Method Survey
2005-2007 ACS 2008-2010 ACS 2011-2013 ACS
Value 90% M.E. Value 90% M.E. Value 90% M.E.
Method 1 872,529 10,272 978,579 10,660 1,059,480 11,824
Method 2A 1,235,975 13,827 1,307,039 13,018 1,353,193 11,715
Method 2B 738,020 9,734 879,830 9,743 943,906 10,907
Method 3 1,423,693 12,678 1,516,481 15,085 1,449,945 11,459

We see that the number of stay-at-home dads calculated using all of the methods has increased since 2007, and 90 percent confidence intervals are about 1 percent for all methods. The highest growth is seen in methods 1 and 2B: 21 percent and 27 percent respectively. The actual number of stay-at-home fathers may be as high as 1,450,000 according to 2013 3-year ACS estimates.

Discuss this article on our forum with over 1,900,000 registered members.

About Alexander Fishkov

Alexander Fishkov

Alexander Fishkov, Ph.D. student Computer Science

Alexander is a Ph.D. student in Computer Science. He currently holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Applied Math. He has experience working for industry major companies performing research in the fields of machine learning, data mining and natural language processing. In his free time, Alexander enjoys hiking, Nordic skiing and traveling.

Other posts by Alexander Fishkov:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *