Americans Believe Mothers Have It Harder Today

May 08, 2013, 1:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 5/4/2013) As Americans look ahead to celebrating Mother’s Day this weekend, they recognize that mothers don’t necessarily have it easy. In fact, 58% in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll say mothers have a harder time today than they did when today’s adults were growing up. Only 16% think things are easier for mothers now.

Women are even more sure that things are harder for them today: 66% of women say it’s harder to be a mother now. And the more years between a woman’s childhood and today, the harder it may look: older women are even more likely than younger women to think it’s tougher for mothers today.

In fact, many today might like to go back to the past, or at least change the way most children are raised: they think stay-at-home mothers would be best for children. Nearly two out of three – 63% – say children are better off if their mother is home are doesn’t have a job. A majority of women agree.

More men than women agree. 68% of men say it’s better for the child to have a stay-at-home mother, as do 58% of women. Older Americans are more in favor of stay-at-home mothers than younger ones are. A majority of those under 30 say it makes no difference.

But Americans don’t really want to send women back to the kitchen. They overwhelmingly approve of women working. Nine in ten approve of married women holding jobs in business and industry even if they have husbands who can support them. This wasn’t always the case. When Gallup first asked this question in 1945, only 18% of Americans approved!