Our View: More female breadwinners

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 12:04 PM

Editorial Board

Columnist Cathy Young, writing for RealClearPolitics.com, put this question succinctly: “Are female breadwinners bad for America? Is caveman punditry bad for Republicans?” The quote comes in the wake of a much-linked put-down of males acting chauvinistic by Fox News news anchor Megyn Kelly. (It can be watched here) Lou Dobbs & Co. sound silly.

The report that working moms are now the main breadwinners in 40 percent of households with children is an economic positive. However, there is a clear distinction between the economic power of households with one parent compared to two parents.

Among the 25 percent of households with a single mom raising children, that group — demographically younger and less educated than other moms — earned an average of $23,000 a year. Of the 15 percent of households in which married moms earned more than dads, the average income was $80,000 a year.

Women are making these economic strides after a tough recession. It bears noting that women did not enjoy these family breadwinner numbers in better economic times. Although a percentage of these career-wage earning moms may have rejoined the workplace because families couldn’t afford to have a stay-at-home mom, the strong wages they are earning shows they enhance economic status.

We doubt that this trend is going to draw back, even if the economy improves. In that sense, we agree with Young and others who argue that it is the economy, and not government, which provides the best path toward economic success for women. When hard times came, mothers either joined the workforce or increased their participation in the workforce.

We hope we have heard the end of a certain “logic” from some right-wing male pundits that a “natural” scenario is the man working and the woman nurturing. That’s unrealistic for the majority of families in today’s economy.

But it’s not retrograde to be concerned with the poor earning power of single moms who are tasked with raising families without assistance from a father. A solution with better prospects for economic security is to have two parents in the home. Efforts to promote marriage would be a wise use of government funds.

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