Having No Kids and the Disposable Income Myth
Coined some years ago now, the term “DINKs,” or “double income no kids” couples have commonly been seen to have more disposable income than parents. On the surface it might seem to make sense. Couples with no kids don’t have all the expenses that come with raising kids, so they should have more money left to spend on other things, right?
Think again. The latest data from the U.S. Census affirms what we see on the ground in talking with hundreds of childfree couples. A fertility report released this month for data collected in 2008 indicates that of childless women ages 40-44 with an annual family income of $20,000-$29,999, 20% are childless. For the same age range, with annual family income of $30,000-$49,999, 20% are childless. What is the percentage of childless women ages 40-44 with an annual family income of $100,000 or more? Fourteen percent.
Like with other U.S. Census data, this report does not track the choice factor, so we can’t be sure that all of those who are childless do not have children by choice. But the Census has indicated that looking at ages 40-44 tends to reflect the choice factor, as if women wanted kids they would have likely had them by that age. These days however, we have seen an uptick in women in their 40s having children so it remains hard to pinpoint just from looking at U.S. Census data. The National Survey of Family Growth does track “voluntary” and “involuntary” childlessness, and is due to have some recent data come out in 2011.
In any case, these data suggest that when you don’t have children it does not automatically mean you have more income, thus more disposable income. People without children come from all walks of life, all occupations, and a range of income levels.
If folks do happen to have money to spend beyond the essentials, it also just boils down to differences in consumer behavior. When they can afford it (and not--at least until the latest Great Recession!), what is really happening out there? People without kids and parents are just buying different stuff.