Sources of additional family income

Multiple Sources of Income - Bob Proctor

See other articles in PMC that cite the published article. Abstract Attention has recently been focused on wealth as a source of long-term economic security and on wealth ownership as a crucial aspect of the racial economic divisions in the United States. This literature, however has been concerned primarily with the wealth gap between poor and middle-class families, and between the white and black middle class.

In this paper, we investigate the incomes of families at the top and bottom of the family income distribution. We examine the sources of income and the demographic characteristics of these high-income and low-income families using family level data from the Current Population Surveys.

We find that, at the bottom of the distribution, transfer income is the major income source; in particular, income from social security, supplemental security, and public assistance. At the top, employment income is the largest component of family income.

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Non-white, female, and non-married householders are disproportionately located at the bottom of the family income distribution. These families sources of additional family income of both young and old adults, with high-school educations or less, in low-level service occupations.

Updated Jul 5, What is Household Income? Individuals do not have to be related in any way to be considered members of the same household. Household income is an important risk measure used by lenders for underwriting loans, as well as a useful economic indicator of an area's standard of living. Understanding Household Income Median household income is a frequently reported economic statistic. Because many households consist of a single person, median household income is usually less than median family income, another frequently reported economic statistic, because a household consisting of a single person is not included in the average family income calculation.

Many are disabled, many are retired. Householders at the top of the income distribution are typically male, white, and married. Householders and spouses at the top are typically middle-age, with college educations, employed in professional service and managerial occupations.

We find that wealth is not an important source of income for families at the highest percentiles.

The Family Income Distribution: Income Components and Demographic Characteristics Introduction

The highest income families during this period in the U. The Family Income Distribution: Income Components and Demographic Characteristics Introduction Until the mids, nearly all discussions of economic inequality focused on income. Income, after all, is the proximate source of material well-being for the overwhelming majority of families and individuals in most societies, and data on income are easily obtained from a wide variety of sources.

The distinction between wealth and income is important because wealth signifies ownership of a stock of assets, while income represents a flow of purchasing power.

The asset most equally distributed among families in the U. It is through home-ownership that most Americans are able to accumulate wealth. They then argue that racial differences in the distribution of home-ownership create a qualitative chasm in life experiences and life chances between the white and black middle class.

Indeed, it is these income-producing assets stocks, bonds, businesses, and real estate other than the principal residence that free families from dependence on the labor market and contribute to economic independence, autonomy, and power.

The measure of poverty used is based on family income and accommodation costs, standardised to take account of family size.

The unequal distribution of these economic resources is important for several reasons. In market economies, wealth is an important source of economic power, and, in representative democracies, wealth is an important source of political power. Lindblom, Income and wealth are jointly determined. Income can be accumulated as wealth, and wealth is a source of additional income.

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We expect, therefore, that the highest income families are those with the most substantial wealth holdings and thus the highest income from wealth. Opportunities for the acquisition of both income and wealth in the United States have historically been determined, in part, by race.

Therefore, we also expect that families with the highest incomes are predominantly white.

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  • Household Income Definition
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In addition, considering that approximately one-half of all Black households are headed by women, the economic status of Black women in the United States is an important predictor and major force between the consistent and wide-spread disparity between Black and White households Brown ; Rivlin We therefore expect that black women are most likely to be located at the bottom of the family income distribution.

In what follows, we investigate the distribution of family income by income source, and the demographic characteristics of families at the top and the bottom of the family income distribution.

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We pay special attention to the very top because of our interest in wealth and income from wealth: as we will show, only those at the very top receive substantial income from wealth. We also examine what Lenskip.

The CPS collects monthly economic, social, and demographic data on all persons in the 50, sampled households Current Population Survey, ; in addition, the Sources of additional family income Demographic Supplement ADScollects employment and income data for the previous calendar year.

Data are available at the person- family- and household-level. For each year, we aggregated families into the family income percentiles noted above.

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For each, we calculated the median income for each income source. We did not include the earned-income tax credit EITC in any of our income categories.


The documentation for this variable states that the actual dollar amount received by families is not the value sources of additional family income for this variable. It is, instead, a simulation of what the family would have been eligible for, not what they actually received.

The CPS top-codes all incomes at the individual level, and alcoprim trading top-codes changed over time. We recoded sources of additional family income top-codes to the values before we aggregated individual incomes into families.

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Other data not shown indicate that much of these transfers consisted of social security, supplemental security, and public assistance 6. The demographic characteristics of these families are presented in Table 1. Half of the householders are between 25 and 61 years old, with a median age of Half of householders did not complete 12 years of schooling, but half of spouses did.

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  • Family Income at the Bottom and at the Top: Income Sources and Family Characteristics
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