Married couple household income breakdown

This is the universe, as the Census Bureau likes to say, of all married couples, so these numbers include married people with no kids at home or no kids at all. So this represents about 57 million families.

  • ~20%, or over 11 million families, had household incomes of 100-149k in 2015
  • 9%, or about 5 million families, had household incomes of 150k-200k in 2015
  • ~10%, or slightly under 6 million families had household incomes of 200k or more 2015
  • Less than 15%, about 8 million families, had household incomes of 35k or less in 2015
  • ~35%, or about 20 million families had household incomes of 50k-99k in 2015 with around 55%, or 11 million families, being 50-74k earners
  • ~11%, or around 6 million families, had household incomes of 35-49k

As you can see, nearly 40% of married couples, representing between 21 and 22 million families, have household incomes above 100k, over 1/3, or about 20 million families have household incomes of 50-100k, and around 1/4 or just 14 million families make 50k or less.

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The Grain of Truth theory of effective activism.

Activism is effective politically and even socially when it starts from one true thing. Even if a giant forest of lies is built up around that, one small grain of truth is what keeps people attached. This is more true of progressive activism than conservative activism, but that is fairly recent.

The reason conservatives lose so much of the time is that they prefer stories that don’t even have the grain of truth and then wonder why people reject them. A good example is the bizarre love affair conservatives have with food stamps needing to be converted into actual raw ingredients. That this was done and didn’t work and that food stamps really are better at both feeding little kids who can’t help who their dysfunctional parents are and at getting said parents to be less dysfunctional is something they appear to be utterly ignorant of. Conservatives prefer a story about how things ought to be over the historical reality.

That’s just one example. There are plenty of others. Wide open topic for discussion.

Why Ivanka Trump is a lovely example of a working mother.

Ivanka Trump has a new book out and I’m never going to read it, because in the news articles and her own little social media bits about it, I learned all I need to know:

  • She has two nannies for three kids.
  • She was happy to not only admit it, but even acknowledged their work by name.

This has gotten her excoriated by the press of course, but the thing is, Marissa Mayer of Yahoo built a multimillion dollar nursery in her office and was feted by that same press.   This is utterly unattainable for the average American mother, who is increasingly professional-class and in the top 10-20% of household incomes nationally.  Ivanka’s nanny setup, however, is attainable for two professional class mothers splitting the cost for 2-4 children, and possibly as many as 4-6 combined.

I think that is worth noticing and paying attention to.  Simply admitting that three closely spaced children just might take a lot of help from other women to manage reasonably is absolutely huge.  Thanks for brightening a housewife’s day, Ivanka!

Hedonic substitution and the myth of poor conservatives being middle class

Hedonic substitution in economics is buying ground beef instead of steak, or the Pinto instead of the Lambourghini.  People also engage in hedonic substitution.  It’s a hallmark of the conservative worldview.

Living in low quality housing, with one car in a car-centric society, eating a meatless or low protein diet, and yet all the while asserting that you’re middle class.  Homeschooling is often another hedonic substitution.  One hour once a week “co-op” is suddenly equivalent to 15k/kid/year private classical school and will definitely give you the same results.

It’s about telling people who have to substitute cheaper versions that they aren’t substituting at all but instead getting something for nothing because they’re just so smart and middle class.  And also not distinguishing between the people who can choose something else and thus aren’t operating on such tight margins.  The oft-cited (and mostly historical rather than current) statistics of children homeschooled by mere high school graduate mothers leave out how many of their fathers were engineers and STEM types.

While the median household income for married couples with under-18 kids is about six figures and has been even adjusted for inflation for decades, it’s still a median and a bunch of married folks with kids will end up on the low half of that median.  And instead of them being respectably poor or working class, they’re instead endlessly encouraged to engage in elaborate substitutes that cannot give the same result or benefit, but which would be superior if they weren’t being used as substitutes for something more expensive in time and/or money.

This approach also lets the higher-earning households avoid awkward social obligations and relationship building that used to be present even in individualist America out of a combination of ingrained habit and necessity.

The Marginal Child in 2014

These are heat maps of where people decide to have the marginal third child that breaks the “family of four” paradigm that is reflected even in consumer goods and packaging because it’s become such a core part of post-Vietnam American culture.

For all races, about 30% of births for 2014 were third kid or higher.

Third births and higher, all races

For whites, it was about 25%

Third births and higher, whites only

A starting point for discussion is that while the coasts with good jobs where both parents can potentially earn 75-100k apiece are punching a little below the national average, they are nevertheless putting up third babies in the double digits in many high-cost counties.

Where the babies are, 2014

Heat map of where 4th and higher births are by county for all races.  National average is 12.4% of all births.

Fourth and higher births

Here’s just non-Hispanic whites.  Their national average is 10.2%.

Fourth and higher order births, whites only

The hottest counties have 24-27% of births (all races) and 31-35% of births (white only) as kid #4 or more.

Open for discussion.