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MinneCensus: Family size and its relation to income in Minnesota ...

  • Blog Post by: Jeremy Olson
  • September 25, 2012 - 12:06 PM

Somewhere between obvious and fascinating is this information about household income levels in Minnesota and how family size plays a role. It's probably no surprise that 2-person families have lower incomes; that owes to the fact that many of these families are young couples starting out in life or single parents drawing only one paycheck. The same logic follows for 3-person families. Where the numbers get interesting are the dropoffs in median income levels for families larger than four.

Check them out here:

Household Median Income by Family Size, Minnesota 2011
Minnesota Total 2-person families 3-person families 4-person families 5-person families 6-person families 7-or-more person families
Household Income
$71,321
$62,363
$75,350
$87,319
$83,575
$70,413
$70,131
Margin of Error
+/-598
+/-758
+/-1,742
+/-1,687
+/-2,760
+/-4,246
+/-5,886

This data comes from the U.S. Census' newly released 2011 American Community Survey. The survey gains national attention every year for its estimated income, poverty and health insurance levels. But it is loaded with other little nuggets about our social fabric that often get overlooked. The "MinneCensus" blog this week will be highlighting some of those statistical trends about Minnesota that you've probably never seen before!

I asked Steven Ruggles, director of the Minnesota Population Center at the U of M, to explain why the average family of seven or more makes so much less than the average family of four. He said there has long been a stastical correlation between larger family sizes and lower incomes:

"There are a lot of theories as to why this is true. Mostly, I expect it operates through maternal education -- all over the world, the more education women have, the fewer the children. But the more education, the higher the income (amplified because women with lots of education tend to marry men with lots of education). Other factors in recent years may be immigration of low-income people with more traditional views about desired family size, and possibly higher fertility among fundamentalist groups that also have comparatively low income (and low education)."
Obviously the reasons behind these numbers aren't absolute; there are certainly large families with large incomes. And there are no doubt families of four living below the poverty level. But the data shows that the family of four is the "sweet spot, with a disproportionate number of peak-earning, two-child couples with lots of education," Ruggles said.
 
Interestingly, Minnesota has one of the widest gaps in the nation between the median income levels of its 4-person families and the median income levels of its 7-or-more person families. There were only two states in 2011 in  which 7-or-more person families had median income levels that were significantly higher than median income levels of 4-person families. 
 
Which two? Hawaii and Utah.

 

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