Monday, July 20, 2009

Data You Can't Trust (And the Silver Lining)

The worst of the summer madness is behind me, so I can now turn to the enormous list of things that have piled up. In the days and weeks to come, I'll be pointing out a bunch of old pieces of news and updating the blogroll.

But I need to start with with Every year, they commission a survey to see how many working dads would do the at-home thing "if their spouse or significant other’s income could comfortably support the entire family." The numbers here have bounced around over the years -- it rose as high as 49 percent in 2005 -- and this year landed at their level in the 6 years that the effort has been taking place: 31 percent.

CareerBuilder makes no effort to explain this, but let me make two overarching points:

1. Men have not suddenly decided that hanging with the family isn't all its cracked up to be. I'm guessing that the decline in the number of would-be at-home dads is actually a reflection that the number of working dads who can imagine -- in this economy -- having one income earner "comfortably support[ing] the entire family" is at an all-time low. This says a lot more about the psychology of the American workplace than it does about the American family.

2. Despite this (and despite the fact that I think this kind of survey is scientifically marginal best), these results show that one in three dads out there have absolutely zero problem with a reverse-traditional family. This findings (if true) remains extraordinary by historical standards, even if the numbers are moving around a bit.


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