Stay-at-Home Fathers: Definition and Characteristics Based on 34 Years of CPS Data

Karen Z. Kramer, Erin L. Kelly, Jan B. McCulloch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We use CPS data from 1976 to 2009 to compare the characteristics and proportions of stay-at-home father (SAHF) households with both stay-at-home mother (SAHM) and dual-earner households. We find that mothers in SAHF households have a significantly higher level of education than their husbands and experience the sharpest increase in education over time compared with spouses in other household types. Caregiving SAHF households are, over time, closing the income gap with their SAHM counterparts. We make a distinction between caregiving and unable-to-work SAHFs and demonstrate that these two types of SAHF households are substantially different from one another. Caregiving SAHF households share key traits with SAHM households. Our results show that families living in stay-at-home households are increasingly the result of a deliberate choice made by spouses to have fathers assume a caregiving role while mothers pursue employment outside the home.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1651-1673
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number12
StatePublished - Sep 29 2015


  • family demography
  • gender roles
  • household living arrangements
  • stay-at-home fathers
  • work and family

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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