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economy lab

Stay-at-home dads across the land, rejoice. You're not alone.

The number of men self-identifying as stay-at-home dads has increased threefold over the past 30 years, a Statistics Canada study found.

The same study shows that the number of stay-at-home dads has been enjoying a gradual ascent, reaching 60,000 in 2011, up from 20,000 in 1976. Men now account for 12 per cent of stay-at-home parents, compared with only 4 per cent in 1986.

If these numbers don't sink in, here's a comparison: one in every 100 stay-at-home parents were fathers in the seventies. Today, it is one in every eight.

Why? Many point to the recent 'he-cession,' in which middle-aged men took the brunt of job losses (four out of five jobs lost in October 2008 were held by men according to a Statscan study), forcing fathers to stay home. This shift means that an unprecedented number of women are becoming the "top breadwinner of the family" (women now make up 48 per cent of the work force), with fathers taking over operations on the home-front, a study by BMO Financial Group found.

And yet, despite such sea change other studies show that social beliefs have yet to catch up with the economic trends. According to the BMO study, two-thirds of Canadians "still believe that it's more socially acceptable for a woman, rather than a man, to stay home and take care of the family."

Families who find themselves in a single-income household after the economic downturn are being forced to reassess priorities. "It's been estimated that at least 15 per cent of household income is spent on children," said Caroline Dabu, VP, Retirement and Financial Planning, BMO Financial Group, in the study. Ms. Dabu recommends that families considering a switch from a double to single-income assess their financial priorities, but know that they are not alone in the process.

Perhaps an unintended benefit of the he-cession and the subsequent increase in stay-at-home dads will be a happy cohort of boys and girls with close relationships with their dads, willing to shell out money for nice father's day gifts. To all fathers staying at home or at the office, happy father's day!