Does changing household size resurrect American economic performance?

Persons per family household:

1990: 3.22

2000: 3.24

2010: 3.24

Not so much change, and if you look you will see there is also not so much change for non-family households.  The Census pdf is here.  I have covered this ground before, but the myth of “changing household size means economic progress has been just fine” dies hard.

By the way, the average number of people in a household categorized as “living alone” has remained strictly constant at one.

All of this is referring back to yesterday’s discussion, and I thank Paul for the reminder.  Also from the MR comments, Ricardo writes:

…you can find median income numbers broken down by size and type of household over time precisely to distinguish single 19-year-olds from married couples with children. They do not change the underlying story much at all. See:

What happens in these debates is that some people simply cannot bear the thought that incomes for a large percentage of Americans are stagnant and so try to introduce all sorts of red herrings into the discussion without actually doing the basic research required to see that the stagnationists are basically correct on just about any relevant measure you care to use. To pick one example, let’s look at white married-couple families to move past any concerns about single moms or poor, non-white immigrants skewing the results downward. You can find this in Census Table F-7. You will note that white married-couple families where the wife does not work have experienced almost complete stagnation in real income. Real income among this group was slightly higher in the 1970s than it was in 2007 (the peak over the past 10 years). I challenge you to look at any number of measures and you will see that the gains made in overall family or household income are almost entirely due to more women entering the labor force and earning only slightly higher wages. If you focus solely on per capita income, you miss the fact that people may be marrying less and having fewer children as a consequence of the stagnation in male wages and the need many women feel to work longer hours.

Guy S writes:

Household composition adjusted data from the Census Bureau can be found on pgs 16-17 in this document:

This has been a total wipeout of income potential for the lowest quintile households in the US.

Here is Russ Roberts, with a possibly more optimistic perspective on the comparison with 1989.  You also might want to read this post by Kebko.


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