16% say female breadwinners harm children

June 07, 2013, 1:41 PM GMT+0

Americans are open to a variety of family models, but some do think that having a female breadwinner is harmful to children

Last week, Fox News contributor Erick Erickson courted controversy when he said that "having moms as the primary breadwinner is bad for kids", basing his argument on "the natural world" and "other animals". While Erikson recieved sharp rebukes from his Fox colleagues, Greta van Suteren and Megyn Kelly, new research from YouGov shows that Erickson is not completely alone in his beliefs. 16% of Americans say that raising children in a family where the mother is the primary earner for the family will have a negative effect on them.

Most people, on the other hand, believe that raising the kids in a family with the mother as a primary breadwinner would have a neutral effect (34%) or no effect at all (23%). 7% said it would have a positive effect on the children.

As for what the ideal family situation is, Americans are accepting of a variety of models, though with a strong preference towards a working father and a mother who took care of the children. 

When asked what the best model for a family is, 42% of Americans say "One parent primarily working and another primarily focusing on the children", while 9% say "Both parents working full-time". 41% think both are equally good.

Asking specifically about fathers, 45% think it best if the father works full time, while only 3% say it is better if he focuses on the children. 47%, on the other hand, think that working or focusing on the children are equally good.

As for mothers, the preference is reversed, though with still the highest portion (46%) saying all options are equally good. 20% think it is best if the mother stays at home entirely, while 24% say it is best if she works part time and 4% say it is best if she works full time.

Age and Party more important than gender

Age is the most important factor in the results, with younger Americans far more likely to express the equality between different family models and older ones far more supportive of ones with a male breadwinner.

Party, too, is reflected somewhat in the results. Republicans are more likely to favor a family configuration where the mother focuses on the children and the father works full time. Democrats are more likely to say that all the different models are equally good. While there were differences between genders in the response - women are slightly more open to alternative configurations - these differences are less significant than either those of age or party affiliation.

Full results can be found here.