74% Say Most American Families Can't Afford To Have One Parent Stay Home

April 17, 2012, 11:00 AM GMT+0

(Week of 4/14/2012) A Democratic strategist’s comment that Ann Romney "had never worked a day in her life" set off a firestorm of debate about how Americans view women who stay home to raise children. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, most Americans knew about this comment. The strategist apologized for what she said, but Americans believe that these days, most women don’t have a choice between working and staying home to raise children. Only 16% in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll believe most American families can choose to have one parent work while the other stays home.

But when a family has that choice, the public is not sure what choice it should make. Nearly as many say they are more likely to respect a woman who gives up a professional career to stay home and raise a family as say they are more likely to respect a woman who maintains her career while raising children. Men and women
are equally conflicted.

But Republicans and Democrats give very different answers to this question. Democrats, by 51% to 15%, say they respect women who choose to have a career while raising a family more. Republicans, by 58% to 20%, are more likely to respect a professional woman who gives up a career to raise a family.

Most Americans might believe Ann Romney’s choice bucked the system — focusing on the family is not the choice Americans think society today encourages. There is a division on what society does favor: 40% say women today are more encouraged to pursue a career rather than a family; 42% say women are more encouraged to do both. Only 8% think women are more encouraged to raise a family.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here

Photo source: Press Association

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