chapter  4
Pathways to Adulthood: School and Work
Pages 13

Perhaps the most dramatic change since the 1970s in U.S. society is the rise in participation of women, many of them mothers, in the labor market. Between 1970 and 1994, the number of mothers with children under the age of 6 who were in the labor force more than doubled from 30% to 62% (Children’s Defense Fund, 1996). However, most positions for women, and thus for mothers, continue to pay substantially less than those for men with similar levels of education. The average family income in mother-only families in 1993 was $12,073, compared with $23,305 in father-only families (Zill & Nord, 1994). The net value of a mother’s working is also often substantially reduced by the costs of child care, transportation, and clothing. At the same time, increasing numbers of out-of-wedlock births and high divorce rates mean that mothers are likely to be responsible for their families’ income. In 1993, 23% of children under 18 lived in mother-only families and 3% in father-only families (Zill & Nord, 1994).