Stay-at-home parent?

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
November 09, 2011, 11:37 AM GMT+0

Almost two in three British parents with children aged 18 and under say they would stay at home to look after their children full-time if their partner earned enough to allow it, while even more people would be happy for their partner to be the stay-at-home parent if their own job earned enough, our poll has found.

  • 63% of Brits would stay at home full-time to care for their children, providing their partner earned enough, compared to 22% who say that they would not
  • 69% would be happy for their partner to stay at home full-time, if they themselves earned enough to allow it
  • 16% say they would not

However, the gender divide over the issue is stark.

  • While men and women are more or less agreed over whether they themselves would stay at home (65% to 62% respectively), far fewer women (56%) then men (82%) say that they would be happy for their partner to stay at home
  • In fact, 25% of women say that they would definitely not be happy for their partner to stay at home, compared to just 8% of men who think the same

There is also a regional divide: fewer London residents would be willing to stay at home full-time (54%), compared to a high of 68% of Scots, 67% of those in the rest of the South, and 65% of those in the Midlands and Wales.

Stay-at-home parents

A recent study published by insurance firm Aviva has shown that the number of stay-at-home fathers has increased in the past decade amid higher amounts of women earning more than their partners. Notwithstanding, according to figures from the ONS, nearly one in three mothers is now working full-time, some with children as young as six months, reportedly because of the need to help pay ever increasing bills and mortgages.

And while our survey results show that fathers say they would be happy to stay at home (or see their partner do so) if finances allowed it, founder of parenting website Mumsnet Justine Roberts has weighed in on the issue, saying that ‘in our experience, it is great that men are getting more involved with the kids, but there's still a big divide’. She continued, ‘Women still pick up the bulk of the domestic duties in the house – even when both parents are working’.

However, in another side to the debate, our results show that even if finances allowed it, women would be less happy to see their partner stay at home instead of them ‒ suggesting that the reasons often cited to explain why parents, especially mothers, go back to work after having children may not be quite as clear cut as they first appear.

See the survey details and full results here (from page 11)