The (lack of) wealth post

Long story short, even most millionaires haven’t got much.  For households with a net worth above 500k, the mean and the median are both around 1 million dollars including home equity.  This means that the air gets pretty thin once you hit about a million in total assets.  And home equity is on average 30% of total assets for all groups, so even millionaires are vulnerable to losing that status with a few bad housing market years.

Black people are younger and disproportionately live in smaller, unmarried households with less than one full time worker.  The racial wealth gap is partly a gap of not living in a married+kids household with 1.5-2 full time workers.  The other part is not being 65 and long-married.  Demographic lag means old married white couples have asset appreciation, and that there are still enough of them to keep the white wealth median in the six-figure range.  Old married black women have a tiny asset gap, but there are just not very many of them as a group. Young and even middle-aged marrieds of any race have perhaps 100-150k in assets, including home equity.  If you have more than 150k in assets, especially without home equity, you are flying pretty high.

As for overall net worth, despite the gaps, 1/4 of black households have six-figure or greater net worth.  A little more than half of all white, non-Hispanic households have a six-figure or greater net worth.  This roughly tracks in both cases with the marriage percentage.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Survey of Income and Program Participation, 2014 Panel, Wave 1
Internet Release Date: 6/1/2017

There are surveys of net worth that get into more detail, but surveying people on savings and assets just reveals that over the last 30 years there’s been a lot of volatility, with the basic numbers not budging much for the young and middle-aged once you account for real estate or stock bubbles inflating and popping.  Sticking money in the bank is the most sturdy savings and it piles up the absolute slowest.  The “we’ll all put a dollar in and pull four out in 30 years” has turned out to not lead to everyone getting to pull four dollars out.  Weird!

Advertisements

Notes about twin births

Some quick tidbits about twin birth because it’s yet another factor in the current birth trends and relative robustness of fertility in college moms.

  • Twin birth was around 10 per thousand births for white women and 12 per thousand for black women in 1940 and this was relatively unchanged through 1960. The relatively higher number for black women appears to be almost entirely from black women getting pregnant a lot more often.
  • Current twin births are more than triple those rates of a mere half-century ago.  But the “twin gap” has shrunk, with non-Hispanic whites at around 36 per thousand births and non-Hispanic blacks around 39 per thousand births.  This kind of puts a pin in the notion that it’s substantially genetic in black women.  Maybe, but the rapid changes and closing of the gap suggest environmental factors are the major driver.
  • As recently as 1985, the total twin rate for all races was around 20 per thousand births.
  • Twin births among (white, non-Hispanic) college moms are typically above the national average of around 3%.  They are more like 4-5% in many states, with a lot of it happening in regions where I found third children to be born above the national baseline for third births.
  • Twin births these days are more likely to be second births than first.  I don’t know if that would be the case pre-birth control and pre-ART, it’s hard to find birth order data because live twins were so much rarer until quite recently.

 

Urban dads in the 1950s did a surprising amount of childcare.

It looks as though the dad pitching in with the kids and housework is not quite as recent as people, particularly on the right, often claim.  While GI fathers show decent evidence of being hands-off, it appears things had changed for the fathers who came along a decade or so later.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, there were a lot of excited demographers studying the lower age of marriage and relatively higher fertility, and thrilled at the idea that a new pattern of family growth even in urban areas via natural increase might be the new normal.

One of those studies was done in two parts in 1957 and 1961 and it involved over 1100 white collar and blue collar couples in the eight largest major metropolitan areas at the time. It involved white couples who’d had their second child in 1956.  They further narrowed the group with technical requirements beyond the scope of this post, but the upshot was that they got some interesting data that Catholics, Jews and Protestants alike all wanted 2-4 children (90% across the board) and less than 10% wanted 5+.

Another interesting detail of this study is the post title.  Many of the mothers were still housewives, but fully 2/3 of them could count on their husbands to take care of the children as a norm.  Fully 1/3 of these urban women mostly living in apartments could also count on someone who wasn’t their husband (and by definition for the study not one of their own children) to help them around the house as a norm.

If one includes “sometimes”, 85% of the 1100+ wives could expect some recurring level of help with the kids from their husbands.  And including “sometimes”, it was 60% of those wives.  So by 1957, the husband was already viewed as a major source of help by urban wives.

They did a follow-up study covering whether a third (or) child had been born, and I haven’t gotten far into that one yet.  But I found the detail about help that the wife felt she could count on reliably very relevant to 60(!) years later.

Source: Family Growth in Metropolitan America, 1961, Princeton University Press.

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.

Stay at home parents by the numbers

Some small data points for the day, courtesy of the most updated data on the matter from the US Census.

  • 38% of households with a stay at home parent have household income of 75k/yr or higher.
  • 96% of stay at home parents are mothers, only 4% are fathers.
  • Households with a stay at home parent represent 25% of married-couple households.
  • Less than 5% of households with a stay at home parent have three or more children under 6 in the home.
  • 41% of households with a stay at home parent have five or more members in the household, compared with 29% of households with both parents working at least part-time during the year.
  • 18% of households with a stay at home parent have exactly three children under 15 in the home.
  • 9% of households with a stay at home parent have four or more children under 15 in the home.

This is for all married-couple households with their own children under 15 in the home.