A new survey conducted by BabyTree, China’s largest parenting website, found that the number of stay-at-home mothers among Chinese Generation Z — those born after 1995 — has been steadily on the rise and reached about 82 percent of the demographic group in 2019.
The study (in Chinese), which was released last week, asked 1,400 frequent visitors to the site a series of wide-ranging questions related to motherhood and parenting.
In 2019, about 58 percent of families made up of young adults had at least one parent who left their job for housework and childcare. Per the survey, young moms are more likely to take a career break than their husbands. The fastest-growing group among stay-at-home moms is women under 25. The study found that over 80 percent of Gen Z moms didn’t have jobs outside the home, and most of them were from lower-tier cities.
When asked about their future career plans, about 45 percent of Gen Z stay-at-home moms said they had no intention of returning to work. According to them, the thought of reentering the workforce raised an array of concerns for them, such as being out of touch in terms of technical skills, being viewed as less committed to their work, and having trouble finding comfortable places to feed their babies or pump breast milk at work.
While most of the Gen Z stay-at-home moms surveyed by the website expressed no interest in getting a job that requires a full-time commitment, around 60 percent of them said they were considering starting a side gig that allows them to fulfill their professional goals while being home with their kids. But given “economic factors” and “a lack of energy,” only 35 percent of them have turned their ideas into action.
The survey doesn’t elaborate on why Gen Z moms — especially those from less developed areas — tend to drop out of the workforce to take care of their families, but Chinese internet users who found the number surprising and troubling had some theories (in Chinese) to explain the phenomenon. As many pointed out, when growing up, women in rural China are expected by their families to take on traditional gender roles, which means they are less likely to receive higher education and more likely to get married young compared with their peers in urban areas. After giving birth, these young and less-educated moms often find it particularly challenging to earn a living outside the home given their lack of working experience. Even for those who want to be a working parent, job opportunities for women in small towns are severely limited and most of them pay poorly.