It’s official; stay at home dads do not exist


If you are a blogger then you will find immense pride in announcing you wrote a piece for a magazine. So, I wrote about stay at home dads (yay me). I found inspiration from guys who are SAHDs like me.

These days this topic is getting more and more focus from the media. Talking numbers, SAHDs have increased recently and there are approximately 250,000 of us in the UK.

This figure is given more focus because the number of men who are leaving the corporate and economic world to look after their homes and children.

So here is what I thought I should do. The right number of stay at home dads in the UK is still unknown so I thought it might be fun to try to find out the number of SADs.

For research purposes, I consulted the Office of National Statistics (ONS), The Fatherhood Institute and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). Please take note of my level of commitment here.

So, the statistics is said to be black hole and my research analyzed how big of a hole it really is.
What we know for sure. . .

  • According to the last quarterly data published, we know the following numbers of economic inactivity of both genders.
  • For men aged 16-64 the figure between March and May 2015 was 246,000. For women, the figure was 2,020,000.
  • The comparable figures for 2013 were as follows: 210,000 men versus 2,904,000.

For just one year, the numbers have seen a steep fall for women and a steep rise for men. This suggests more women are going to work and more men are taking responsibility of the home.

But we can’t be sure the number of men inactive are all currently stay at home dads. But we know that women are out-earning men increasingly and the norms of gender responsibility are breaking.
But. . .

The ONS data isn’t concerned with the numbers of stay at home mums or dads. It simply collects data based on economic inactivity of both sexes.

Upon asking them to recheck and confirm, this was the response I received.

The ONS has been crystal clear with me, it does not collect or classify data relating specifically to stay at home mums or dads.

Sadly, we do not know the number of stay at home dads (or mums) in the UK currently.

So after I was upset with what I found out and being upset for considerable amount of time, I figured finding out the right number would be like finding a needle in a haystack. The research would also include stay at home parents, working from home parents, step-parents and divorced parents who share 50/50 custody. All this would need to be classified separately and I cannot even fathom how it would be possible.

Of course they would be a way to find it out and the ONS is more than capable to do so but it would require a big investment of time and hard work. God knows we humans fear hard work.

Let’s talk about economic activity now.
You may not realise it, but you’re probably a working parent

So we know that the ONS doesn’t cover the statistics of stay at home mums or dads. So figures provided above by the ONS include individuals who are a 100% economically inactive.

So what about those stay at home parents who do online or freelance work at home? Or maybe bill a few hours at a charity shop on weekends? So this is a whole new category. Such parents will be classified at economically active despite playing the role of the primary carer at home.

So I asked ONS to confirm his for me:

A mum or dad might do a few hours of paid work in a charity shop on a Saturday. They wouldn’t feature in these figures because they would be considered economically active.

I was told this statement is right.

So what is going on in the world of fatherhood?

So we have established there are no accurate numbers of stay at home mums or dads. So then I went ahead spoke to the Fatherhood Institute. I also spoke to a couple of people I knew and their precise response was “Let us know when you have your answer. Good luck.”

Fatherhood Institute were helpful and told me to rely on the ONS studies and men’s working pattern.

We know from the above mentioned ONS studies of the last quarter that there are 246,000 men economically inactive and after a comparison, it is safe to assume that this number is rising as we speak.

What we forget are gay marriages and adoptions are a part of these two. But if a gay couple has adopted children, chances are one male partner is the primary caregiver at home and this needs to be classified as well.

Unlike the UK, United States have a number on the issue. The Pew Research Centre has found that the number of stay at home dads at the moment is double of what it used to be back in 1989 and there are around 2 million stay at home dads today in the country. Need I mention the fact where the US goes, UK follows?

Research also suggests that unlike the past when men used to work longer hours, the trend is no longer being followed. The following has been picked from the Modern Fatherhood’s website:

  • Between 2001 and 2011 the proportion of fathers working 48 or more hours per week has fallen from 40% to 31%, compared with 35% to 29% for all men.
  • Between 2001 and 2011 the proportion of fathers working 60 or more hours has fallen from 13% to 10%, compared with 11% to 9% for all men.

The following was published in January 2015 in the Working Families’ Modern Families Index:

Within couple households, there has been a convergence between parents in the amount of paid work that they do. Fathers are also working less intensively and are more likely to be around in the evenings and at weekends as the number working non-standard hours has fallen.

In simple words, fathers are increasingly being seen at home and available to their families. Family life is finally presiding over work life. A considerable (but still small) number has given up career to fulfill the caregiver role around the house but other than that men are stepping up as a family person.
Recently the CBI held a campaign and has called on all employers to offer employees flexible working hours.
In conclusion

To my disappointment, I could not achieve what I set out to figure. I could not find the number of stay at home dads in the UK. But we did find from a rather trusted source that the number is growing and will continue to.

I am just disturbed to know no accurate data is known for this category and what the Government uses to provide parent-focused services?

As for the private sector, it is well established that men are making children and family their main focus over careers. Additionally, a small number is giving up careers altogether to look after children. I am just personally offended because all parent-child products are marketed at mums and the growing number of us stay at home dads is ignored.

There is a chance there is a whole bunch of us who lives under the radar. They may or may not be economically inactive. They may or may not be making money sitting at home blogging or running a bakery from home on orders.

So to conclude, we do not know how many proud stay at home dads there are in the UK and whatever you read or see in the media, needs to clarified for accuracy.

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