BOSTON — Likely driven in part by economic factors and changing demographics, the number of stay-at-home mothers in the United States has risen since 2000 after decades of decline, a report released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center shows.
The researchers found that 29 percent of mothers with children younger than 18 — about 10.4 million women — stayed at home in 2012, compared with the historic low of 23 percent in 1999.
"It has implications for the day-to-day lives of children, and represents a big divergence of the pattern that we've seen in the past," said D'vera Cohn, a senior writer at Pew who wrote the report with Gretchen Livingston and Wendy Wang.
About 49 percent of mothers stayed at home in 1967, but that number decreased until 1999.
"It's the flip side of what's been going on in the workforce," Cohn said. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women's participation in the labor force peaked at 60 percent in 1999. By 2012, it had fallen to just under 58 percent.
Economic challenges may play a role in the growth of stay-at-home motherhood. The report found that, in 2012, 6 percent of stay-at-home mothers said they stayed at home because they could not find a job, compared with just 1 percent who gave that answer in 2000. And it found that a third of stay-at-home mothers live in poverty, while 12 percent of working mothers live in poverty.
The report found that less educated women were more likely to be stay-at-home mothers; 51 percent of mothers who had not completed high school did not work outside the home, while 21 percent of mothers who are college graduates stayed at home with their children.
Forty percent of immigrant mothers do not work outside of the home, compared with about a quarter of mothers born in the United States.