The mean household income for husbands in the analysis was $60,000.
“I think many Americans think, based on the popularity of shows like 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,' that stay-at-home mothers are the preserve of the rich.
High-income couples can afford to choose whether both parents work or one stays home with the kids.
They can decide whether the family will benefit most from mom working or staying home to be with the children.
That's according to researchers at the Institute for Family Studies, who describe the married, stay-at-home mom population as a U-shape, with a high proportion of moms deciding to stay home at each end of the income and education spectrum.
"Mothers married to a husband who makes less money are themselves often less-educated, and they don't make that much money when they work," said Wendy Wang, director of research at the institute and co-author of the report, "The Real Housewives of America: Dad's Income and Mom's Work." Education and income go hand-in-hand, with those who are better educated able to bring in more income.
– Wendy Wang, director of research at the institute and co-author of the report, "The Real Housewives of America: Dad's Income and Mom's Work." "Circumstances change when you have a child," said Wang.
"Then couples make the decision on what works for their families.
Mother's education is a proxy for her earning capacity, the researchers note, adding that despite the U-shaped curve, mothers who have an advanced degree are the most likely to be in the labor force.
Wang interprets that to mean that when couples decide whether a mother will work, "opportunity costs play a role," too.