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What are the odds of being a stay-at-home mom?

Being a stay-at-home mom is becoming less common in recent years, but it is still a goal for many women. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, around 23% of married-couple families with children under 15 years old had a stay-at-home mother in 2020. That is down from 25% in 2016 and 29% in 2000. Here is a closer look at the odds and factors that impact a woman’s chances of becoming a stay-at-home mom.

How Common is Being a Stay-at-Home Mom?

While the percentage of stay-at-home moms has declined in recent decades, it is still relatively common in the U.S. The most recent data from 2020 shows:

  • 23% of married-couple families with kids under 15 have a stay-at-home mother
  • About 14 million married-couple families in the U.S. have a stay-at-home mom
  • Stay-at-home moms make up 24% of all U.S. mothers with children under 18

So while the odds of being a stay-at-home mom have gone down over time, roughly 1 out of 4 married mothers with kids still take on that role. The chances do vary significantly based on demographics and other factors, which are explored more below.

How a Woman’s Age Impacts the Odds

A woman’s age plays a major role in the chances she will become a stay-at-home mom. According to Census data, here are how the odds differ by age bracket:

Mother’s Age Percentage Who Are Stay-at-Home Moms
Under 25 years 56%
25-29 years 38%
30-34 years 27%
35-39 years 21%
40-44 years 18%
45-49 years 14%

As the data shows, younger mothers under 25 have the highest likelihood of being stay-at-home moms at 56%. The odds decrease steadily with age, with only 14% of mothers 45-49 years old staying home. This aligns with the stage of life when women are having babies and raising young children. Stay-at-home parenting is most feasible when kids are infants through elementary school age.

How a Woman’s Race Impacts the Odds

There are also notable differences in the chances of being a stay-at-home mom across racial groups. The percentages by race are:

  • 29% for White, non-Hispanic mothers
  • 18% for Black mothers
  • 26% for Hispanic mothers
  • 15% for Asian mothers

White and Hispanic mothers are more likely to be stay-at-home moms compared to Black and Asian mothers. Experts cite economic factors as the primary driver, as White and Hispanic families are more likely to have the single-income earnings needed to support having one stay-at-home parent.

How Education Level Impacts the Odds

Not surprisingly, a woman’s education level also correlates with her chances of becoming a stay-at-home mom. Women with lower levels of education are more likely to be full-time parents. The percentages of stay-at-home moms based on education are:

  • 41% for mothers with less than a high school degree
  • 27% for mothers with a high school degree
  • 18% for mothers with some college
  • 19% for mothers with a bachelor’s degree or higher

Mothers who did not complete high school are over twice as likely to be stay-at-home moms compared to college-educated mothers. Since higher education typically leads to higher-paying careers, mothers with college degrees are less likely to leave the workforce.

How Location Impacts the Odds

Geography is another factor that impacts a woman’s chances of being a stay-at-home mom. Stay-at-home moms are more prevalent in certain regions of the U.S. The top 10 states for stay-at-home moms are:

State Percentage of Stay-At-Home Moms
South Dakota 32%
Utah 31%
Alaska 29%
Nebraska 28%
North Dakota 27%
Hawaii 27%
Virginia 26%
Wisconsin 26%
New Mexico 25%
Montana 25%

The plains, mountain west, and midwest regions have the highest concentrations of stay-at-home moms. Utah, South Dakota, and Alaska top the list with about 30% of married moms staying home. Cultural factors regarding family roles tend to drive these regional differences.

How Number of Children Impacts the Odds

Not surprisingly, women with more children are more likely to become stay-at-home moms. The more kids a woman has, the less feasible it becomes to manage both parenting and a career. The percentages based on number of children are:

  • 15% for mothers with 1 child
  • 21% for mothers with 2 children
  • 27% for mothers with 3 children
  • 35% for mothers with 4+ children

While 15% of moms with just one child stay home, that jumps to 35% for mothers with four or more kids. Mothers are increasingly likely to leave work as they have more children who require care.

How Family Income Impacts the Odds

The final major factor impacting stay-at-home odds is family income. Higher earnings make it more realistic for families to live on one income. The percentages by income level are:

Family Income Percentage of Stay-At-Home Moms
Less than $25,000 24%
$25,000 – $49,999 22%
$50,000 – $99,999 23%
$100,000 or more 29%

Interestingly, low-income families under $25,000 have stay-at-home moms at nearly the same rate as middle-income families. But at higher incomes of $100,000+, the percentage jumps to 29%. Affordability is clearly a factor in being able to have a stay-at-home parent.


While being a stay-at-home parent has become less common over time, about 1 in 4 married moms with kids still take on that role. A woman’s age, race, education, location, number of kids, and family income all impact the odds she will end up as a stay-at-home mom. The choice is driven by a mix of cultural expectations and economic feasibility. With around 14 million stay-at-home moms across the U.S., it remains a goal for many women despite shifting societal norms.