The new stay-at-home dad of the early 1990s may have been more than just sensitive—he may have been out of work. The share of fathers providing childcare was probably linked to the health of the economy, according to the Survey of Income and Program Participation of the U.S. Census Bureau.
The share of fathers in married-couple families who provided at least some care for their preschool-aged children while mothers worked rose from 23 percent in 1988 to 30 percent in 1991, nadir of the early 19905 recession. But in 1993, as the economy recovered, the share declined to 25 percent.
The share of fathers providing childcare probably rose in 1991 because the recession put husbands out of work and in the home, according to the report. In addition, declining incomes may have prevented parents from hiring childcare, requiring more fathers to pitch in. As the economy took an upturn, more fathers found jobs, and fewer were available to bring up baby while mother worked.