Georgetown Law official exemplifies new stats on rise of breadwinner moms

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A new study on breadwinner moms rings true for Lisa Rohrer, a researcher at Georgetown Law’s Center for the Study of the Legal Profession.

According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 40 percent of families with children under 18 are headed by women who are the sole or primary breadwinners for their families, the Washington Post reports. The number was just 11 percent in 1960. The new numbers are driven by an increase in births to single mothers, more women in the workplace and job losses by men during the recession.

Women with husbands are primary breadwinners in 24 percent of families with or without children, the study found.

Rohrer, who researches management structures in law firms, tells the Washington Post the lifestyle works for her. She became the primary breadwinner when her husband started his own business. Because her husband picks up the kids from school and oversees housekeeping, she has been able to work in jobs requiring lots of time and travel. “I’m also glad our kids see an alternative way of handling careers, marriage and kids,” she said. “On the other hand, I have a lot more sympathy for dads in families where their wives are staying at home. There is a lot of pressure when you’re the main breadwinner.”

Other findings of the study:

• In two-parent families, 61 percent have a mother who has a similar educational level as her husband, 23 percent have a mother who is better educated, and 16 percent have a father who is better educated.

• Forty-nine percent of married mothers who out-earn their husbands have a college degree or higher.

• Among married couples with children, the total family income is highest when the mother, rather than the father, is the primary provider. In 2011, the median income for such families was $80,000, about $2,000 more than for couples in which the husband was the primary breadwinner and $10,000 more than for couples who made the same income.

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