Cities with the most (and fewest) stay-at-home parents

states with the most stay at home moms

Since the late 1990s, stay-at-home parenting has been on the rise. According to the Pew Research Center, a combination of changing economic, social, and demographic factors has led to the reversal of a long-term decline in stay-at-home parents that had persisted since the 1960s. At present, 32 percent of married-couple households in the U.S. with children under 18 have a stay-at-home parent. Of those, more than eight in ten have a stay-at-home mother.

Although stay-at-home parenting is on the rise nationally, the proportion of households with a stay-at-home parent varies significantly by location. To determine how much variation there is across the U.S., Haven Life, an online life insurance agency analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau 2016 American Community Survey, looking only at the one hundred largest cities having the most married-couple families with kids. Its researchers defined a “stay-at-home parent household” as one in which one spouse is in the labor force, and the other isn’t.

How the cities stack up

While the number of households with a stay-at-home parent varies widely from city to city, there are a few interesting national trends to mention. In every city, the number of families with a stay-at-home mother is greater than the number of families with a stay-at-home father. Generally, family size shows a mild positive correlation with stay-at-home parenting. Cities with a larger average family size are more likely to have a greater proportion of families with a stay-at-home-parent.

Additionally, education plays an important role in family dynamics. Across U.S. cities, high school graduation rate shows a mild negative correlation with stay-at-home parenting, which is consistent with Pew Research Center’s findings. The more educated a city’s population is, the less likely you are to find stay-at-home parents. Also, consistent with Pew’s findings, Haven Life found that a larger foreign-born population correlates with more families having a stay-at-home parent. Factors such as a city’s mean personal income and unemployment rate did not appear to be related.

At the state level, states in South and West tend to have more stay-at-home parents than states in the North and East. This trend is consistent with the city analysis shown below.

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Cities with the most stay-at-home parents

1. Laredo, TX

  • Families with one stay-at-home parent: 52.1%
  • Families with a stay-at-home mother: 47.3%
  • Families with a stay-at-home father: 4.9%
  • Average family size: 3.65
  • Population with a high school diploma or higher: 68.1%
  • Population that’s foreign-born: 28.3%

Situated in South Texas and known as the largest inland port of entry between the U.S. and Mexico, Laredo offers a blended culture that is American, Texan, and Mexican. Language, cuisine, and cultural attractions are heavily influenced by this confluence of cultures. Laredo has the highest percentage of families with a stay-at-home parent, at 52.1 percent. In addition, Laredo has the highest percent of stay-at-home mothers. At 68.1 percent, Laredo has the second-smallest population with a high school diploma or higher, well below the national average of 87.5 percent.

2. Santa Ana, CA

  • Families with one stay-at-home parent: 47.9%
  • Families with a stay-at-home mother: 44.1%
  • Families with a stay-at-home father: 3.8%
  • Average family size: 4.43
  • Population with a high school diploma or higher: 57.1%
  • Population that’s foreign-born: 46.1%

In the number-two spot, almost half of families in Santa Ana have a stay-at-home parent. Santa Ana also has the lowest percentage of high school graduates, at 57.1 percent, and the largest average family size, at 4.43. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 77.9 percent of Santa Ana residents identify as Hispanic/Latino and 46.1 percent of the population is foreign-born.

3. Irving, TX

  • Families with one stay-at-home parent: 45.9%
  • Families with a stay-at-home mother: 43.5%
  • Families with a stay-at-home father: 2.3%
  • Average family size: 2.77
  • Population with a high school diploma or higher: 78.6%
  • Population that’s foreign-born: 38.5%

Irving is part of the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metro area and is home to the Las Colinas community, which was one of the first master-planned developments in the U.S. and is now an area that boasts residential complexes, commercial buildings, and entertainment centers. The average family size in Irving is 2.77, and 45.9 percent of families have a stay-at-home parent. In almost all cases, this parent is the mother—only 2.3 percent of families have a stay-at-home father. The population of Irving is 38.5 percent foreign-born, with sizeable populations from Asia and Latin America.

4. Houston, TX

  • Families with one stay-at-home parent: 45.4%
  • Families with a stay-at-home mother: 43.5%
  • Families with a stay-at-home father: 1.9%
  • Average family size: 2.62
  • Population with a high school diploma or higher: 78.5%
  • Population that’s foreign-born: 30.3%

Houston is the fourth-largest city in the U.S. by population. The average family size is 2.62, and 30.3 percent of the population was born outside of the U.S. Houston’s high number of stay-at-home parents (45.4 percent) are mostly composed of mothers, with only 1.9% of families having a stay-at-home dad. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Houston is a very young city, with 25.3 percent of the population under the age of 18.

5. Sunnyvale, CA

  • Families with one stay-at-home parent: 45.2%
  • Families with a stay-at-home mother: 44.0%
  • Families with a stay-at-home father: 1.2%
  • Average family size: 2.70
  • Population with a high school diploma or higher: 91.9%
  • Population that’s foreign-born: 48.4%

Sunnyvale is one of the cities that comprises the area known as Silicon Valley, and as such is a hub for the tech industry. Sunnyvale has the lowest percentage of families with a stay-at-home father on this list, at just 1.2 percent. Additionally, Sunnyvale has the largest foreign-born population on this list, at 48.4 percent.

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6. Bellevue, WA

  • Families with one stay-at-home parent: 44.9%
  • Families with a stay-at-home mother: 40.0%
  • Families with a stay-at-home father: 4.9%
  • Average family size: 2.49
  • Population with a high school diploma or higher: 95.6%
  • Population that’s foreign-born: 36.9%

Bellevue is located along Lake Washington and across from Seattle. Bellevue is the best-educated city on this list, with 95.6 percent of the population holding at least a high school diploma (compared to 87.5 percent nationally). Forty percent of Bellevue families have a stay-at-home mother and 4.9 percent have a stay-at-home father, bringing the total percent of families with a stay-at-home parent to 44.9 percent. More than a third of the city’s population is foreign-born.

7. Dallas, TX

  • Families with one stay-at-home parent: 44.4%
  • Families with a stay-at-home mother: 42.5%
  • Families with a stay-at-home father: 1.9%
  • Average family size: 2.53
  • Population with a high school diploma or higher: 76.7%
  • Population that’s foreign-born: 24.7%

Dallas is the third-largest city in Texas, and it is situated in the area known as “Tornado Alley,” making it prone to extreme weather. In Dallas, the percent of families with a stay-at-home mother (42.5 percent) greatly outnumbers that with a stay-at-home father (1.9 percent). About a quarter of the city’s population is foreign-born. At 2.53, the average family size is significantly lower than the national average of 3.27.

8. Riverside, CA

  • Families with one stay-at-home parent: 44.2%
  • Families with a stay-at-home mother: 38.2%
  • Families with a stay-at-home father: 6.0%
  • Average family size: 3.41
  • Population with a high school diploma or higher: 80.3%
  • Population that’s foreign-born: 22.4%

Riverside is part of the greater Los Angeles area and suffers heavily from air pollution, especially smog. Riverside has an average family size of 3.41, which is larger than most of the other cities on this list and higher than the national average of 3.27. Here, 44.2 percent of families have a stay-at-home parent, with 38.2 percent having a stay-at-home mother and 6 percent having a stay-at-home father. The population with at least a high school diploma is 80.3 percent, lower than the national average of 87.5 percent.

9. El Paso, TX

  • Families with one stay-at-home parent: 44.1%
  • Families with a stay-at-home mother: 40.9%
  • Families with a stay-at-home father: 3.2%
  • Average family size: 2.99
  • Population with a high school diploma or higher: 78.9%
  • Population that’s foreign-born: 23.7%

El Paso is located on the Rio Grande, in the far western corner of Texas and just north of the Mexican city of Juarez. In El Paso, 44.1 percent of families have a stay-at-home parent and the average family size is 2.99. The percent of El Pasoans with a high school diploma or higher is 78.9 percent, lower than the national average.

10. Detroit, MI

  • Families with one stay-at-home parent: 43.7%
  • Families with a stay-at-home mother: 34.8%
  • Families with a stay-at-home father: 8.9%
  • Average family size: 2.54
  • Population with a high school diploma or higher: 80.0%
  • Population that’s foreign-born: 5.9%

Known as the center of the automobile industry, Detroit is the most populous city in Michigan and the second-largest metropolitan area in the Midwest. Detroit has the highest percent of families with a stay-at-home father on this list. Unlike most of the other cities on the top ten list, the foreign-born population is only 5.9 percent, significantly lower than the national average of 13.5 percent.

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Cities with the fewest stay-at-home parents

1. Baltimore, MD

  • Families with one stay-at-home parent: 21.2%
  • Families with a stay-at-home mother: 15.0%
  • Families with a stay-at-home father: 6.2%
  • Average family size: 2.46
  • Population with a high school diploma or higher: 85.0%
  • Population that’s foreign born: 8.1%

Baltimore is the largest city in Maryland and is known for its port and many historic districts. Baltimore has the lowest percent of families with a stay-at-home parent. Additionally, nearly three out of ten families with a stay-at-home parent in Baltimore have a stay-at-home father, a ratio significantly higher than average. Only 8.1 percent of Baltimore’s population is foreign-born, compared to 13.5 percent nationally.

2. Minneapolis, MN

  • Families with one stay-at-home parent: 21.9%
  • Families with a stay-at-home mother: 16.8%
  • Families with a stay-at-home father: 5.1%
  • Average family size: 2.30
  • Population with a high school diploma or higher: 89.6%
  • Population that’s foreign-born: 15.4%

The larger of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis is nestled between the banks of the Mississippi River and is home to various lakes, smaller rivers, and wetlands. In Minneapolis, 21.9 percent of families have a stay-at-home parent, with 16.8 percent having a stay-at-home mother and 5.1 percent having a stay-at-home father. The average family size is 2.3, much smaller than the national average of 3.27.

3. Boston, MA

  • Families with one stay-at-home parent: 22.3%
  • Families with a stay-at-home mother: 16.9%
  • Families with a stay-at-home father: 5.4%
  • Average family size: 2.33
  • Population with a high school diploma or higher: 86.2%
  • Population that’s foreign-born: 28.9%

The only Northeast city on this list, Boston has 22.3 percent of families with a stay-at-home parent. Like Baltimore, Boston is also a port city, a major transit hub, and home to multiple universities, such as Boston University and Northeastern. Boston is also well known for its public education system, which attracts many families to the area. The percent of Bostonians with a high school diploma or higher is 86.2 percent, and the average family size is 2.33.

4. Washington, DC

  • Families with one stay-at-home parent: 22.4%
  • Families with a stay-at-home mother: 19.6%
  • Families with a stay-at-home father: 2.7%
  • Average family size: 2.28
  • Population with a high school diploma or higher: 90.5%
  • Population that’s foreign-born: 13.3%

The nation’s capital offers many historical and cultural attractions—many of them free—for families to enjoy. In Washington, D.C., 22.4 percent of families have a stay-at-home parent, and in most cases, this stay-at-home parent is the mother. Only 2.7 percent of families have a stay-at-home father, lower than the national average. Washington, D.C. is a well-educated city, with 90.5 percent of the population obtaining at least a high school diploma.

5. Durham, NC

  • Families with one stay-at-home parent: 23.1%
  • Families with a stay-at-home mother: 18.8%
  • Families with a stay-at-home father: 4.3%
  • Average family size: 2.38
  • Population with a high school diploma or higher: 87.4%
  • Population that’s foreign-born: 15.2%

Durham is often called the City of Medicine because almost one in four employees in Durham works in healthcare or a health-related industry. Outside of healthcare, Durham has a growing tech sector largely spearheaded by the centrally located Research Triangle Park. In Durham, 23.1 percent of families have a stay-at-home parent. The average family size is 2.38, much smaller than the national average of 3.27.

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6. Lincoln, NE

  • Families with one stay-at-home parent: 23.6%
  • Families with a stay-at-home mother: 17.4%
  • Families with a stay-at-home father: 6.2%
  • Average family size: 2.38
  • Population with a high school diploma or higher: 92.8%
  • Population that’s foreign-born: 8.7%

The capital city of Nebraska, Lincoln is located in the Great Plains of the Midwest. Lincoln is known for its flagship university, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and its extensive parks system. Lincoln has a small foreign-born population (8.7 percent), as well as a high population of high school graduates (92.8 percent). The average family size is 2.38 and 23.6 percent of families have a stay-at-home parent.

7. Madison, WI

  • Families with one stay-at-home parent: 24.1%
  • Families with a stay-at-home mother: 20.1%
  • Families with a stay-at-home father: 4.0%
  • Average family size: 2.20
  • Population with a high school diploma or higher: 96.5%
  • Population that’s foreign-born: 12.0%

Madison is known for its lakes, artisanal cheese, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At an average of 2.2 people per family, Madison has the smallest average family size in the top ten list. The city also has the highest percent of the population with a high school diploma or higher (96.5 percent). The percentage of families with one stay-at-home parent is 24.1 percent.

8. Grand Prairie, TX

  • Families with one stay-at-home parent: 24.4%
  • Families with a stay-at-home mother: 22.1%
  • Families with a stay-at-home father: 2.2%
  • Average family size: 3.08
  • Population with a high school diploma or higher: 81.6%
  • Population that’s foreign-born: 20.2%

Grand Prairie is closely associated with the defense and aerospace industries, and many residents work in those fields. In Grand Prairie, 24.4 percent of families have a stay-at-home parent. Most of these (22.1 percent of families) have a stay-at-home mother. The average family size is 3.08, slightly lower than the national average. About one-fifth of the population was born outside of the U.S.

9. Louisville, KY

  • Families with one stay-at-home parent: 25.0%
  • Families with a stay-at-home mother: 19.9%
  • Families with a stay-at-home father: 5.1%
  • Average family size: 2.39
  • Population with a high school diploma or higher: 88.6%
  • Population that’s foreign-born: 6.8%

Home to the Kentucky Derby and the birthplace of KFC, Louisville is the largest city in Kentucky. Louisville hosts many music festivals, sporting events, and state fairs, so families always have something to do. One in four Louisville families has a stay-at-home parent. At 6.8 percent, Louisville has the smallest foreign-born population on the top ten list. The average family size of 2.39 is much smaller than the national average of 3.27.

10. Lexington, KY

  • Families with one stay-at-home parent: 25.4%
  • Families with a stay-at-home mother: 22.2%
  • Families with a stay-at-home father: 3.2%
  • Average family size: 2.40
  • Population with a high school diploma or higher: 90.3%
  • Population that’s foreign-born: 9.6%

Lexington is the second-largest city in Kentucky, and it is known as the “Horse Capital of the World” and the heart of the Bluegrass region. In Lexington, 25.4 percent of families have a stay-at-home parent. Like Louisville, Lexington has a low foreign-born population. Additionally, 90.3 percent of the population has at least a high school diploma. Lexington is known for its strong economy and low unemployment rate, which currently stands at 3.3 percent.

Methodology & expanded results

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Census Bureau 2016 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. For statistics on stay-at-home parents, only married-couple families with children under 18 years old were evaluated. A family is considered to have a stay-at-home parent if one parent is in the labor force and the other parent is not. A family is considered to have a stay-at-home mother if the husband is in the labor force and the wife is not. Similarly, a family is considered to have a stay-at-home father if the wife is in the labor force and the husband is not. Families with both parents not in the labor force were not evaluated. Only the largest one hundred cities with the most married-couple families with children under 18 years old were included in the analysis.

Average family size is the number of family members in the household per family household. High-school graduation rate and foreign population statistics for each city are representative of the entire population, not just married-couple families with children.

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Haven Life is an online life insurance agency offering term life insurance issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company. Haven Life Insurance Agency LLC (Haven Life) conducted this research for educational/informational purposes only.

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC15DTC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. Not all riders are available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is 0K71922 and in Arkansas, 100139527.

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