Fewer than 1 in 10 women 'staying at home to look after kids'

Working women

The number of working age women staying at home to look after their families and children is fast becoming consigned to history, the latest census figures have revealed.

Returns showed there are 300,000 fewer officials, than previously estimated, who devote their lives to bringing up families.

The collapse follows a decade in which governments urged mothers to take jobs on the grounds that working is the route to fulfilment for women and that families with two incomes are much less likely to fall into poverty.

Critics, however, are concerned about the well-being of mothers who might prefer to be with their families, and the impact on increasing numbers of toddlers who spend long hours in day care.

The 2011 census results found that there are 1,598,000 women who do not work because they are looking after their home and family 298,000 fewer than estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

In the 1970s, when the term 'housewife' was still popular to describe the lives of millions of mothers, the great majority of women with young families stayed at home.

Two decades ago, at a time when higher career expectations combined with fast-rising house prices to push increasing numbers of mothers into the labour market, 17 percent of women were estimated to be stay-at-home mothers.

That fell to 12 per cent by 2002 and has now dropped below 10 per cent. The census results also showed there are 538,000 more women who have jobs than official estimates calculated.

The additional numbers mean there are now just under 13 million women in England and Wales who work or who are looking for work a figure growing close to the 14.6 million men who are reckoned to be 'economically active'.

"There is an assumption that all mothers are desperate to work," the Daily Mail quoted family researcher Patricia Morgan as saying.

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