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Breadwinner moms: Mom earns more in 40 percent of US households (+video)

Breadwinner moms bring home the bacon in 4 out of 10 US households, up from just 11 percent in 1960, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center.

In 40 percent of US homes, Moms are top earners
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A record number of American women are now the sole or primary breadwinners in their families, a sign of the rising influence of working mothers, a new study finds. Mothers now keep finances afloat in 40 percent of households with children, up from just 11 percent in 1960.

While most of these families are headed by single mothers, a growing number are married mothers who bring in more income than their husbands, according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.

As the numbers have shifted, however, public attitudes have remained mixed regarding the impact of working mothers on families. People are not at all sure that it's a good thing.

Demographers say the change is all but irreversible and is likely to bring added attention to child-care policies as well as government safety nets for vulnerable families.

"This change is just another milestone in the dramatic transformation we have seen in family structure and family dynamics over the past 50 years or so," said Kim Parker, associate director with the Pew Social & Demographic Trends Project. "Women's roles have changed, marriage rates have declined — the family looks a lot different than it used to. The rise of breadwinner moms highlights the fact that, not only are more mothers balancing work and family these days, but the economic contributions mothers are making to their households have grown immensely."

The trend is being driven mostly by long-term demographic changes, including higher rates of education and labor force participation dating back to the 1960s women's movement. Today, women are more likely than men to hold bachelor's degrees, and they make up nearly half — 47 percent — of the American workforce.

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