1 in 8 married couples with under-18 kids make 200k/yr or more, a doubling since 2006.

That is as of 2016, courtesy of the American Community Survey’s 1 year estimates.

1 in 10 make 150-199k per year.

Put it together and almost 1 in 4 married couples (about 22%) with under-18 kids makes $150,000 or more household income.

More tellingly, the largest single income group is $100-149,999 per year, with just under 5 million households and about 23% of the total.

Put 22 and 23 together and you get 45% of married couples with under-18 kids make 100k a year or more as a household in 2016.

A bit less than 7.5 million households bring in 50-99k per year (split about 50/50 from 50-74k and 75k-99k), which is almost exactly 33% of married folks with under-18 kids.

This means about 22% or almost 1 in 4 married couples with under-18 kids make 49k per year or less.  Not quite how the demographics of marriage are portrayed in a lot of circles, particularly on the right, where sub 50k is presented as firmly and comfortably middle class.

But in reality the true middle range for all the people married and raising kids right now is 100-150k.  This is true even in the lowest income region, the South,  at 41% above 100k.  For the Midwest and West it’s 45% and for the Northeast it’s 56%, or a clear majority.

What were things like 10 years ago in 2006?

200k- 6% nationally

150-199k- 6% nationally

100-149k- 18% nationally

75k-99k- 18% nationally (16% in 2016)

50-75k was the single largest group broken out nationally in 2006. It was 23% nationally.  It’s shrunk a lot since then and is about 17% for 2016.

So in 2006 the true middle range was more like 75k-100k, and nearly 30% of married couples with under-18 kids had sub 50k household income for the year.

In the last decade the bottom rungs are dropping out of the married with kids ladder.

Under 75k went from a slight majority of 52% of such households in 2006 to a clear minority in 2016 of 39%.

Or the other way around, in 2006 48% of married couples with kids made 75k per year or more.  In 2016, it’s 61%.



In which Dalrock and Deep Strength reject the reality of the College Funnel

These two posts are actually interesting because they’re close, but their own ideological blinders make them miss that the cognitive sort has led to *most kids being the children of smart people*. As well as *the elites totally care about marriage, because now simply being married is a marker of economic separation*.

Class in America has changed and has different division lines. Married people are the new upper middle class. That wasn’t true before the 1960s, but it has become true since wages stagnated in the 1970s.

A substantial minority of people dealt with the wage stagnation by partnership marriages where mom got more and more higher education and could be a much bigger backup/co-earner than in the past.  This allowed that group to capture, over time, some of the productivity gains in real income and married people began to break away as a distinct class by the 1980s.  Once you adjust for what was available to buy in the 1970s and 1980s, it’s clear that the upper middle class rapidly became the married class within less than a generation.

Technological advances also allowed a cognitively unusual slice of the population to have significantly more economic success and consequently marital and reproductive success.

This is just something the right has to deal with.  Marriage is not by default the province of hardworking poorish people.  This is a common right-wing trope/meme/narrative, but it hasn’t been true for a long time, including when many of the people spreading it were newly married.  And it leads conservatives and generically right wing married people into weird and not-useful places by denying that there’s been a big shift upwards for the “average” married couple, particularly those with children under 18.

As I already posted, there are 21-22 million married couples out of 57 million who have six-figure household incomes.  This is not an “elite”.  At the 75k level that is effectively six-figure in many parts of the country, that’s another 9 million households.  30/57 is more than half of married households making 6500 dollars a month or more.

There’s only 125 million households in America.

Also, while the numbers are sadly still high, unwed childbearing is decreasing steadily.  Married childbearing is on the increase at the higher birth orders, astonishingly.

All the “stuff” that goes into raising kids today is not frivolous once you look at the actual conditions we’ve all let happen for various reasons.  And wrapping oneself up in an illusion that nothing’s really changed in terms of what’s needed to be a functional married family is part of why the list of stuff is so long.

Marriage and children in wedlock do cost 100k per year to have

Married-Couple Families in America By The Numbers.

This table leaves out the married couples with no kids under 18 in the house.  This is just a brief glance at where families in America are today.  This is all married couples of every race and ethnic group, of both native-born and foreign extraction, this is all of America that marries and has kids.  And it’s not cheap.

Related Children

In Family under 18

Median Family Income (dollars) Total Families % at $100,000+ annual family income

(number of families in parentheses)

1 90,630 9,843,227 44 (4,344,364)
2 92,322 10,077,382 46 (4,626,248)
3 78,000 3,985,394 37 (1,474,397)
4 66,040 1,172,703 29 (337,068)
5 57,302 307,165 28 (86,303)
6 50,000 99,034 22 (22,059)
7 70,000 37,525 27 (10,261)
8 or more 60,500 16,593 39 (6,419)
Total of all married-couple

Families w/kids under 18


Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 data

Also very informative are the family size cliffs, particularly after three children and five children.  And if I pull data from about ten years earlier, the numbers are pretty much the same, even down to the percentages.  The medians are a little lower, but not by much.

In a smaller table, I’ll just list what the total percentage of families is if you go ahead and toss in the 75-100k folks to account for lower cost of living areas where money might go a bit further.

Here’s the percentages even if you call 75k the new 100k to raise a family as married folks.

Number of Children % of families earning

75K/yr or more 

(raw number in parentheses)

1 62 (6,120,213)
2 62 (6,190,910)
3 52 (2,075,235)
4 42 (493,219)
5 40 (123,006)
6 38 (37,954)
7 45 (17,114)
8+ 46 (7,604)


And there you have it.  A majority of households having kids in wedlock are not doing it on the cheap and significant pluralities are not doing so at larger family sizes.  Definitely something for conservatives to think about when discussing family and marriage issues.  Even at high incomes, it’s possible to feel broke raising kids these days because the prices are being set by very high income households.  This is a marriage canyon.

Without normal married men, there is no welfare state.

If the marriage rate for normal couples was the same as the rate for homosexual couples (about 5% of that population), there would simply not be enough tax revenue at any level to fund the massive apparatus of federal, state and local programs.  The two main sources of net personal revenue are married men with SAHMs and “power couples” earning 75k+ each.

It would behoove all the gay marriage boosters to think the math of making marriage have cooties through a bit more.  Probably not going to happen though.  Everywhere that gay marriage is legalized country-wide, the heterosexual marriage rates take a dive.  No matter what people assert in a survey or on facebook memes, they do think marriage gets gay cooties on it if gay marriage is made national.

And the income earned by people cohabiting or living in civil unions is nowhere as high as what married households bring in.  It turns out that it’s not just a piece of paper and it’s also not something that can be between else but a man and a woman.

Funny how that works.  Natural, normal marriage is what you have to have in order to support a robust welfare state.  Without it, you can’t fund much of anything.