Knowledge Center

Working Parents

Data and sources for Canada, Global, and United States


The Number of Traditional Canadian Households Consisting of a Mother, Father, and Children Is Declining1  


  • In 2016, one-person households became the most common (28.2%), while the percentage of households that include couples with children declined from 31.5% in 2001 to 26.5% in 2016.2

  • The number of couples living without children increased faster (+7.2%) between  2011 and 2016 than the number of couples with children (+2.3%).3

    • The majority of couples in 2016 were married but common-law unions represent over one-fifth (21.3%) of all couples in Canada.4

  • Single-parent households increased by 8.0%, with the greatest reported increase among single-parent households headed by men. Despite this, women still head eight out of 10 single-parent families.5

The Majority of Parents in Dual Income Homes Worked Full-Time in 20146


Between 1976 and 2014, the number of dual-earner families has almost doubled from 1.0 million families to 1.9 million families.7

  • The employment rate of married women increased by over 30 percentage points, from 44.6% in 1976 to 78.1% in 2015.8

  • The employment rate of mothers working with children under 6 years old has increased 117% between 1976 (32.1%) and 2015 (69.5%).9




Nearly Half of All Couple Households in OECD* Countries Include Children10
  • The majority of couple households in Finland, Germany, Japan, and the United States do not include children; by contrast in Israel, almost 70% of couple households include children.11

Women Do at Least Double the Unpaid Work That Men Do12
On Average, More Men Are Using Parental Leave Than Before13
  • Maternity leave is available in 167 countries with average leaves of 106 days.14

  • Paternity leave is available in 86 countries with average leaves of 7 days.15

  • Research shows that fathers who take parental leave are more likely to help with childrearing tasks such as feeding and bathing their children.16

Family Composition Is Changing Around the World

In Australia, 84% of all households were made up of couples in 2016, and 44% of those had dependents.17

  • Of all households, 14% were single-parent families of which women were the head 83% of the time.18

In India, over  300,000 children benefited from sanctioned Creches (preschool education, supplementary nutrition, and recreation that benefits children of working mothers) in 2014 (down from 792,950 in 2009).19

  • In 2006, 82.7% of all children in India lived in a two-parent household, with another 11.4% living in a single-parent household headed by their mother.20

In Japan, women’s workforce participation rate rose to 71.2% for women in the 30–34 age group in 2015, up from 53.7% in 1995.21

United States

Most American Workers Have Family Caregiving Responsibilities22  

The majority of American women between the ages of 15 and 50 are mothers.23

  • 70.5% of all women in 2016 with children under 18 were in the labor force.24

  • In 2016, mothers of younger children were less likely to be in the labor force. Only 58.6% of mothers with infants, compared to 75% of mothers with older children (between 617 years old), were in the labor force.25

  • In 2016, 92.8% of men with children under 18 were in the labor force.26  
  • The traditional family is no longer the norm. Families, where the father is the sole breadwinner, make up only about a quarter of families (27%) with children under 18.27


All Industrialized Nations Except the United States Offer Paid Parental Leave28


  • Only the states of California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island offer paid family medical leave following childbirth or adoption.29
Mothers and Fathers Both Report Difficulties Balancing Work and Family Life30

56% of mothers find work-life effectiveness challenging compared to 50% men.31

American businesses lose $3 billion annually due to absenteeism related to family caregiving issues.32

The 2017 Benefits Survey from the Society for Human Resource Management reported no significant increases in the number of companies offering family-friendly benefits.33

  • Childcare benefits are an important driver in recruiting and retaining talented working parents. While 29% of companies allow parents to bring children to work in an emergency situation, costlier benefits such as access to backup child care services remain rare at just 3% of companies surveyed.34



Additional Resources

Boston College, Center for Work And Family, "The New Dad" (2017). 

Brigid Schulte, Dan Connolly and Uyhun Ung, The Better Work ToolkitIdeas42.

ILO, "Maternity and Paternity at Work: Law and Practice Across the World" (2014).

Pew Research Center, Social and Demographic Trends, "Modern Parenthood," Social and Demographic Trends (2013).

Working Mother Research Institute, “[email protected]: The Working Mother Report” (2015). 

Emily Cohen, Liz Mulligan-Ferry and Jan Combopiano, Flex Works (Catalyst, 2013).


* OECD = Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development



How to cite this product: How to cite this product: Catalyst, Quick Take: Working Parents, September, 2017.