Childcare is big business. So big, in fact, that it may be unaffordable for many families. CivicScience asked 963 U.S .parents about their current experience with childcare. As the data explains, 18% of US parents stay home to take care of their children, while 16% indicate their spouse or partner does the same.

When considered together, that means 34% of U.S. parents are taking childcare into their own hands, as opposed to the 17% who rely upon a daycare provider.

Perhaps not surprisingly, income appears to play a prominent role in determining the type of childcare parents choose. Low-income earners are more likely to handle childcare on their own, while high-income earners are more likely to pay for a nanny or daycare.

That said, the high-income earners who indicate having a partner at home with the kids suggests that for some, the ability to survive off of a single income is more of a luxury than a necessity.

CivicScience took this investigation one step further, asking 1,180 U.S. parents more specifically about whether childcare costs had impacted their decision to stop working. As the data shows, 28% of parents polled have stopped working due to childcare costs, at some point in their lives.

With over a quarter of U.S. parents adjusting their professional life or the professional life of their spouse, it seems that childcare costs could be high enough to make becoming a stay-at-home parent more practical.

Of those who responded ‘yes, I have’, 77% are women.

When comparing the current childcare question to gender, the results showed a sizeable divide. Women make up 69% of those who report staying at home, while men make up 80% of those who report a spouse or partner stays home.  

Of course, not all relationships are between a male and female partner, so it is impossible to know precisely who is staying home with the kids. However, the fact that such an overwhelming percentage of male respondents do not stay home themselves further supports the notion that the gender gap in childcare is very real.

We have long known that women take on more of the managerial tasks around the house, and when it comes to childcare, it seems that the data is no different.

When speaking in terms of generation, it is clear that Gen Xers have the most experience with a parent staying at home to save on childcare. However, the Millennial respondent base suggests that this trend is not slowing down any time soon. If the costs of childcare continue to rise, it is very possible that younger parents will be making the same decisions as their slightly older counterparts at some point in the future.  

One of the biggest factors in this discussion is assumed to be income level. After all, if one parent’s income is essentially the same as the cost of childcare for the year, it could make more sense for that parent to stay at home. What the data reveals, however, is that this decision may be more income-specific, but not necessarily the way we might expect.

The largest demographic with one parent at home for childcare purposes earns between  $50,000 and $100,000 a year. This suggests that certain low-income earners may not make enough to have one person stop working, contributing to their slightly lower percentage in this category.

In 2018, childcare costs are no small consideration, leading many U.S. parents to make a choice between paying for daycare and staying at home. The data suggest that women and men are unevenly impacted by these decisions, adding fodder to the growing understanding of how parents continue to take on different roles in family matters. For those who can, making the choice to have one parent at home could help soften the blow of this particular expense. But, for many more, this choice still remains a luxury.