Fewer women are staying at home to look after family – after numbers fell by a quarter over the past two decades.
One in 11 is now classified as a stay-at-home mother, according to official figures released today.
In the quarter to July, some 1.86million women were recorded as ‘economically inactive’ because they were ‘looking after family or home’.
By contrast the figure in 1997 was over 2.4million.
Some 1,.86million women are recorded as ‘economically inactive’ because they are ‘looking after family or home’, according to the ONS
The details, released by the Office for National Statistics today, underline the scale of the social and economic changes taking place.
Factors such as sharp rises in housing costs as well as more career opportunities for women have resulted in people tending to stay in the jobs market.
At the same time there has been an increase in the number of men opting to stay home and look after family.
However, the rise has been from a very low level – meaning that there were still just 232,000 male home-makers as of the quarter to July.
In 1997 the equivalent figure was around 170,000.
According to the ONS, 1.86million women were economically inactive because they were looking after family or the home in the last quarter.
That is around an eleventh of the total working age female population of just under 20.7million.
The march of women into the labour market follows the increasing importance of education and jobs to girls, and the pressure on women to remain in work to pay ever-higher mortgages and keep up with the cost of living.
There has been an increase in the number of men opting to stay home and look after family to 232,000, but the rise has been from a very low level
For some years government policy has been encouraging women to go back into the jobs market.
Couple who both work can now get 30 hours a week of free childcare, compared to 15 hours where just one parent is employed.
Working mothers have also gained from tax credits and increasing maternity leave.
But critics have accused successive governments of doing nothing to help those who want to bring up their own children since the decision to tax married couples separately in the late 1980s.