Should you stay at home or go to work?

June 6, 2012

While the decision on whether to be a stay-at-home mom or a working mom is a personal one that involves a lot of different considerations, those thinking about going back to school to get a college education and pursue a career might be interested in the results of a new survey released by Gallup.

The poll of more than 60,000 American women revealed that stay-at-home moms are more likely to be depressed, sad or angry compared to their working counterparts. Specifically, 28 percent of stay-at-home moms (versus 17 percent of employed mothers) reported being depressed, 19 percent (versus 14 percent) were angry, 50 percent (versus 48 percent) were stressed, 26 percent (versus 16 percent) were sad and 41 percent (versus 34 percent) were worried.

It also found that stay-at-home mothers were less likely to say they smiled or laughed a lot, learned something interesting, and experienced enjoyment and happiness "yesterday." Additionally, they are less likely than employed moms to rate their lives highly enough to be considered "thriving."

While stay-at-home moms fare worse than employed moms at every income level in terms of sadness, anger, and depression, those with lower household incomes had an even bleaker outlook, according to Gallup. In fact, low-income stay-at-home moms were more likely to be struggling in their lives than thriving - the opposite of employed moms and employed women with no children at home.

"While many mothers are rightfully dedicated to parenting as an important and fulfilling vocation, those who desire to work should feel encouraged by these data to pursue it," the study's authors wrote. "And for those who choose to stay home, more societal recognition of the difficult job stay-at-home mothers have raising children would perhaps help support them emotionally."

Besides potentially improving your emotional outlook, getting a college degree in order to pursue a career can help boost earning potential. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011, individuals with a bachelor's degree made an average of $1,053 per week, compared to $768 per week for those with an associate degree, $719 per week for those with some college (but no degree) and $638 per week for those with a high school diploma.

In addition, recent research from the Pew Research Center reveals that over the course of a 40-year career, college graduates are expected to make about $650,000 more than those without a college degree.

Women who want to get a degree are encouraged to look into ways to make it more affordable such as taking advantage of financial aid for moms, grants and college scholarships.

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