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Researchers have long known that race is linked with social outcomes, a finding particularly evident in a historically black city like D.C. But a new national study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research underscores how race interacts with gender, including this data: Roughly 90 percent of black mothers with children under 18 in the District are family “breadwinners,” versus less than 50 percent among their white peers.
The group’s definition of a “breadwinner mother” covers single head-of-household moms and those who make at least 40 percent of a married couple’s joint earnings. (Single moms who reside in another person’s household, like that of a parent, are excluded from the count.) The organization relied on data from the American Community Survey, a product of the U.S. Census Bureau, to determine the share of breadwinner mothers across states and six racial groups: whites, blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and “multiracial/other.” The analysis data for the District only includes white- and black-mother households in full because, IWPR notes, sample sizes for others were “inadequate.”
In 2014, of 22,648 local households with black mothers, 88 percent had female breadwinners: 73 percent were single and 15 percent were married. And of 12,782 local households with white mothers that year, 49 percent had female breadwinners: 37 percent were married and 12 percent were single. The share of white-mother households with male breadwinners in D.C. (51 percent), in other words, was more than four times the share of black-mother households with male breadwinners in D.C. (12 percent). Nationally, things look a little different:
Namely: Greater than four in five American black mothers are breadwinners, with a majority (60.9 percent) raising children under 18 on their own.
“With the large majority of U.S. mothers in the labor force and a steady decline in the real earnings of all workers over recent decades, families are increasingly relying on mothers’ earnings for economic stability,” IWPR explains. “At the same time, women are more likely than men to shoulder unpaid caregiving responsibilities and many women, especially women of color, are more likely to be balancing work and care alone.”
The full analysis can be read here.