Number of stay-at-home dads falls as novelty of being a 'new man' wears off

Olivia Rudgard
'Men feel that they are only valued for their work role.' - Iconica

For years the number of stay-at-home dads has been rising, as more men take on responsibility for looking after the home and family. 

But now the trend appears to be reversing, with the number falling sharply to a three-year low - and experts say the novelty of being a "new man" could be wearing off. 

The latest ONS data shows that there are currently 232,000 men opting out of the workplace - the lowest number since 2014, and a sharp drop against a pattern which has been steadily increasing since 1993. 

Professor Sir Cary Cooper, a professor of organisational psychology at the University of Manchester, said it was a "sad commentary on our time". 

He said men were struggling to adapt to a changing work environment after hundreds of years of being expected to provide. 

"I think at one point in time it was quite trendy and adventurous to stay at home - men thought 'I should be a new man'. 

"I think what's ended up happening is that they feel like society doesn't reward that and doesn't give them high status. Men feel that they are only valued for their work role."

The most recent figures show that 232,000 men were out of the workplace looking after children or the home - a fall from 241,000 this time last year.

It is the lowest figure since mid-2014, when 229,000 men said they were out of work due to looking after the family and home. 

While the number of stay-at-home dads fell, men aged 16-64 were more likely to be out of work because they were retired, studying or long-term sick. 

Meanwhile the number of women out of the workforce fell to 5.38m - the lowest-ever figure. 

More than one in three of these were stay-at-home mums - but the number has been falling since records began and has reached a low of 1.86m.

Senior ONS statistician Matt Hughes said: “Another record high employment rate and a record low inactivity rate suggest the labour market continues to be strong. 

"In particular, the number of people aged 16 to 64 not in the labour force because they are looking after family or home is the lowest since records began, at less than 2.1 million."

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