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Census dispels notion of 'opting out' moms

WASHINGTON — The first national snapshot of married women who stay home to raise their children shows that the popular obsession with high-achieving professional mothers sidelining careers for family life is largely beside the point.

Instead, U.S. Census Bureau statistics released Thursday show that stay-at-home mothers tend to be younger, less educated and with lower family incomes. They are also more likely to be Hispanic or foreign-born.

Census researchers said the new report is the first of its kind and was spurred by interest in the so-called "opt-out revolution" among well-educated women.

New York Times writer Lisa Belkin coined the term in 2003 to describe high-achieving Princeton women who left the fast track after they had children.

It has since been derided in an era when women struggle to balance work and family and motherhood's conflicts have been parodied in everything from Judith Warner's book Perfect Madness to television's Desperate Housewives and Secret Life of a Soccer Mom.

Fast facts

Census statistics

5.6 million total number of stay-at-home moms

165,000 total number of stay-at-home dads

20 percent of stay-at-home moms had less than a high school diploma

8 percent of other moms had not finished high school

12 percent of stay-at-homes live below the poverty line; 5 percent of others moms do

Census dispels notion of 'opting out' moms 10/01/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 1, 2009 9:34pm]
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