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Working Mother Generations Report Reveals Wide Disparity On Attitudes Towards Work Life Balance

Millennial Parents Are Happiest With Work-Life Choices and Proudest of Their Own Mom's Decision To Work, Show Surprising Ambivalence on Whether Today's Families Should Have One Parent Home With the Kids

NEW YORK, April 1, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A new survey of 2,163 moms and dads about the impact their generational status has on their own work life choices and satisfaction was released today by the Working Mother Research Institute. The study, which examines attitudes of Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers, finds Millennials are the happiest generation of parents, reporting they have a secure and stable job (65%), are upbeat about their family finances (64%) and are most satisfied with their relationship with their spouse (71%).  But not all their news is rosy: Millennials express ambivalence about the current state of work-life balance, with 60% saying they believe one parent should stay home to care for the children.

Commissioned to mark the 35th anniversary of Working Mother magazine, the "Working Mother Generations Report" found the greatest disparity in generational attitudes on work-life issues lies between Millennials (born 1981-2000) and Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964).  The full research report, which is sponsored by SC Johnson, can be found here. Highlights include:

  • A total of 71% of Millennials says they are satisfied with their choice to be a working or stay-at-home parent vs. 59% of Boomers.
  • Millennials report higher satisfaction with their relationship with their spouse/partner, with 71% reporting they are satisfied vs. 56% for Boomers.
  • 75% of Millennials are satisfied with their partners' contribution to the family's finances, while only 58% of the Boomers are.
  • Millennials score highest (60%) in believing one parent should stay home to care for the children, over Generation X (50%) and Boomers (55%). And yet, they also are more likely to believe that when a mom works outside the home, it sets a positive example for her children (62%), Gen X (57%) and Boomers (55%).

Carol Evans, president of Working Mother Media, says, "This report finds fascinating differences among the generations, with parents in each group having their own ideas about the best ways to manage career and family obligations. These are important differences employers should note as they tailor work life policies to benefit the widest range of working parents."


Working Mother magazine launched in 1979, just as Boomer Moms entered the workforce in large numbers. Thirty-five years later, with 68% of partnered moms and 75% of single moms working outside the home, the impact of that major workforce shift is still being felt among the three generations making up the majority of American workers today.

  • Millennial parents are more likely to say they are proud of their mom's decision to work (45% vs. 34% of Boomers and 37% of Gen Xers, who were born between 1965 and 1980).
  • Mothers who are currently stay-at-home are almost as likely to have grown up with a working mom (74%) as those mothers who are now working themselves (78%).
  • Surprisingly, less than half of the working moms surveyed say they hope their daughters will become working parents.. While an overwhelming majority of working moms want their sons and daughters to have a career (97% and 92%, respectively), only 38% hope their daughters will become working parents. By comparison, 78% of working moms hope their sons will become working parents.
  • Notably, however, daughters brought up by breadwinning moms (the primary earner for their family) are more likely to say they are currently the primary earner for their own family.

Kelly M. Semrau, Senior Vice President—Global Corporate Affairs, Communication and Sustainability at SC Johnson, says, "As a mother of two girls, I felt a personal connection to this research, which is essential to understand working parents' needs by generation. With its valuable insights, businesses like ours can develop programs and benefits that address each generation."


  • More than half of all Millennials say that flex causes work to interfere with family time vs. only a quarter of Boomers. Millennials report working the same average hours—7.8 daily—as the other generations, but roughly half say they "cannot get away from work."
  • Millennials are much more likely to say they would prefer to work even if they did not have to financially (47%) vs. Gen X (37%) and Boomers (36%).
  • Gen X is the least likely generation to say they're fulfilling a higher purpose through work than just making money (13 percentage points lower than Millennials and 8 percentage points lower than Boomers).

Generation X has a "front row seat to work life tensions," says Working Mother Research Institute Director Jennifer Owens. "This is not that surprising, considering that this generation is striving to move into higher positions at work, while also working to guide their children through homework, after-school activities and everything else, with an eye towards college. Meanwhile, Boomers are thinking about their own future changes, including retirement, and are mostly likely to be dealing with elder care issues with their parents."

About the Methodology
All 2,163 survey participants were between the ages of 18 and 64 years old with a child under 18 living at home with them at the time. Sixty percent of the respondents were currently employed, 40% were unemployed (either temporarily or voluntarily), 48% were Gen X, 35% Millennials and 17% Boomers. The Working Mother Research Institute developed the survey and fielded it online. Bonnier Custom Insights, a division of Bonnier Corporation, tabulated the responses, which were analyzed by Maria S. Ferris Consulting LLC.

About Working Mother Media
Now in its 35th year, Working Mother magazine reaches more than 2 million readers and is the only national magazine for career-committed mothers, while WorkingMother.com (www.workingmother.com) offers working mothers @home and @work advice, solutions, and ideas. This year marks the 29th anniversary of Working Mother's signature research initiative, Working Mother 100 Best Companies, and the twelfth year of the Best Companies for Multicultural Women. Working Mother Media, a division of Bonnier Corporation  (www.bonniercorp.com), includes the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE, www.nafe.com), Diversity Best Practices (www.diversitybestpractices.com), and the Working Mother Research Institute. Working Mother Media's mission is to serve as a champion of culture change.

About SC Johnson
SC Johnson is a family company dedicated to innovative, high-quality products, excellence in the workplace and a long-term commitment to the environment and the communities in which it operates. Based in the USA, the company is one of the world's leading manufacturers of household cleaning products and products for home storage, air care, pest control and shoe care. It markets such well-known brands as GLADE®, KIWI®, OFF!®, PLEDGE®, RAID®, SCRUBBING BUBBLES®, SHOUT®, WINDEX® and ZIPLOC® in the U.S. and beyond, with brands marketed outside the U.S. including AUTAN®, TANA®, BAMA®, BAYGON®, BRISE®, KABIKILLER®, KLEAR®, MR MUSCLE®, and RIDSECT®. The 128-year-old company, that generates $9 billion in sales, employs nearly 13,000 people globally and sells products in virtually every country around the world. www.scjohnson.com

SOURCE Working Mother Media

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