Women are now the sole or primary breadwinners for nearly 40% of families, according to the Pew Research Center, a trend driven by the rising rate of single mothers and the disproportionate number of men affected negatively by the recession. "The decade of the 2000s witnessed the most rapid change in the percentage of married mothers earning more than their husbands of any decade since 1960," says Philip Cohen, a University of Maryland sociologist who studies gender and family trends. "Some women decided to work more hours or seek better jobs in response to their husbands’ job loss, potential loss or declining wages."

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