Surprise: Husbands stay home more

Most home-based workers don’t fit the popular image of a woman who provides childcare or sells crafts out of her house, according to new research.

In fact, a study of 899 home-based workers in nine states found that nearly 59 percent were male. The average home-based worker was 44 years old, married, had some education beyond high school and had been involved in work at home for nearly a decade.

“The traditional view is that home-based workers are dominated by home knitters and quilt makers who fit their work around childcare and household responsibilities,” says Kathryn Stafford, associate professor of consumer sciences at The Ohio State University’s College of Human Ecology. “But we found that most home-based workers are men performing traditional work in fields like sales and construction.”

The findings of Stafford and colleagues at Purdue and Montana State universities also suggest home-based work has a strong economic impact. Researchers estimate the total income generated by home-based businesses in the states studied is $19.7 billion annually — about 3 percent of the total personal income generated.

“We found in Ohio, for example, that home-based work contributed more to total income than did farming,” says Stafford.

The sample included home-based business owners, often referred to as self-employed, as well as those who worked at home for outside employers. The most common occupation among those surveyed was marketing and sales.

States included in the study were Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Iowa, Missouri, Utah and Hawaii. Although these states were selected due to their interest in funding the study, Stafford says they’re fairly representative of the United States, with the exception of the Southeast. Stafford says she is also involved in new research extending the study to all 50 states.

How to reach: Kathryn Stafford, 292-4564, [email protected]