Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Lauren Carroll
By Lauren Carroll May 3, 2017

Ivanka Trump, in new book, says women are primary earners in 40% of households

Despite the large number of women in the American workforce, society still treats them as an "anomaly," first daughter Ivanka Trump wrote in the introduction to her new book, Women Who Work.

"Forty-seven percent of the U.S. workforce is made up of women; 70 percent of all mothers support ourselves or contribute financially to our family’s bottom line; and 40 percent of American households have female primary breadwinners," Trump wrote. "Yet we still say ‘working woman’ as if she were an anomaly. We never say ‘working man.’ "

There are a few statistics in that passage, but we wanted to hone in on one of them: that women are the primary earners in 40 percent of American households.

In the notes section of her book, Trump referenced a widely cited 2013 Pew Research Center report that looked at households with children under the age of 18.

The report found that in 2011, women earned most or all of the family’s income in 40 percent of these households, adding up to about 13.7 million "breadwinner moms."

That’s quadruple what it was in 1960 — 11 percent.

The Pew figure is a little more specific than what Trump wrote because it only looked at households that had kids, not those that don't have kids.

But in context, it's clear Trump was referring to the Pew report — especially because she referred to the same statistic later in the book when talking about being a working mom herself.

"As much as motherhood is a joy to so many of us, it is also the greatest predictor of wage inequality between men and women in our country," she wrote. "Forty-seven percent of the U.S. labor force is female; 40 percent of women are their family's primary breadwinner."

Featured Fact-check

"The fact is correct," said Betsey Stevenson, a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Michigan and former chief economist at the U.S. Labor Department.

We couldn't find any comprehensive data that spoke to how many households total, including those without kids, had women as the primary earners.

Of the families where the woman is the primary breadwinner, Pew found that 37 percent are married women who earn more than their husbands, while 63 percent are single mothers.

And the households with a married primary breadwinner, with a median family income of $80,000, are wealthier than the single mother households, which have a median family income of $23,000.   

The Pew report is the most recent independent report we could find speaking to this issue. But we also came across a 2016 report by the liberal Center for American Progress that had similar findings.

According to the Center for American Progress, 42 percent of mothers were the sole or primary breadwinners in their households in 2015. And 22.4 percent were co-breadwinners, earning one-quarter to one-half of their total household income.

Even though women’s share of the labor force grew dramatically throughout the latter half of the 20th century, it has stagnated in recent years, at least in part because of a lack of family-friendly labor policies, said Casey Schoeneberger, communications director at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.

Our ruling

Ivanka Trump said, "40 percent of American households have female primary breadwinners."

A widely cited Pew report found that in 2011, 40 percent of American households with children under 18 had women providing most or all of the family’s income. A report by a liberal think tank found similar results looking at 2015 data.

The context of Trump's statement shows that she had working moms in mind. 

We rate her statement Mostly True.

Share the Facts
Politifact rating logo Politifact Rating:
Mostly True
"40 percent of American households have female primary breadwinners."
in her book
Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Our Sources

Portfolio, Women Who Work, May 2, 2017

Pew Research Center, "Breadwinner Moms," May 29, 2013

New York Times, "U.S. Women on the Rise as Family Breadwinner," May 29, 2013

Center for American Progress, "Breadwinning Mothers Are Increasingly the U.S. Norm," Dec. 19, 2016

Email interview, Portfolio spokeswoman Tara Delaney Gilbride, May 3, 2017

Email interview, University of Michigan professor Betsey Stevenson, May 3, 2017

Email interview, Washington Center for Growth spokeswoman Casey Schoeneberger, May 3, 2017

Email interview, University of Houston professor Chinhui Juhn, May 3, 2017

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Lauren Carroll

Ivanka Trump, in new book, says women are primary earners in 40% of households

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up