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Earners and Dependents in Urban Families in Relation to Family Income

By Jacob Fisher*

IN MOST SOCIAL INSURANCE systems

contributions are based on i n d i v i d u a l earnings. Benefits, o n the other h a n d , are, for m a n y programs, varied by size and composition of f a m i l y . Since lower-paid workers t e n d t o have larger families there is a rough k i n d of social equity i n t h i s departure from the payment of benefits s t r i c t l y p r o portional to contributions. How rough is n o t too well k n o w n , since data on contributions a n d benefits by f a m i l y income class can be only p a r t i a l l y approximated. I t is of course t r u e t h a t , even i f a l l the facts were i n , people would s t i l l disagree on w h a t is socially equitable. There is considerable value nevertheless i n assembling w h a t materials there are as a basis f o r a discussion of the policy issues involved. Measurement of the i m p a c t of social insurance

* B u r e a u of Research a n d Statistics, D i vision of C o o r d i n a t i o n Studies. M a r t i n M a r i m o n t a n d Sol A c k e r m a n , f o r m e r l y of t h e D i v i s i o n , a i d e d i n t h e development of t h e tables.

taxes and the incidence of benefits by f a m i l y income classes depends, h o w ever, o n t h e availability of d a t a o n the number of earners and dependents at v a r y i n g income levels, and the effect of income differences on size and composition of f a m i l y . T h e present article addresses itself t o the analysis of f a m i l y composition and income relationships. The data are derived f r o m the 1940 census a n d deal i n the m a i n w i t h u r b a n families w i t h income f r o m wages or salary only. Such families numbered 11.1 m i l l i o n or somewhat more t h a n h a l f of the u r b a n families enumerated a n d a l i t t l e more t h a n a t h i r d of a l l f a m ilies i n the U n i t e d States.

T y p e of family A l l families

Total

Urban

Rural

35,087,440 20,749,200 14,338,240

Families w i t h i n come from wages or salary only 15,928,300 11,132,500 4,795,800 Other families 19,159,140 9,616,700 9,542,440

Families w i t h income l i m i t e d to wages or salary were selected because t o t a l income was obtained f o r such families only. (The census schedule included an i t e m for income of $50 or more f r o m other sources b u t only w i t h respect to its receipt or nonreceipt.) To maximize homogeneity i n the data, the analysis was confined to u r b a n families. The usefulness of the data p r e sented i n the article does n o t lie i n the income distribution, w h i c h is descriptive of only one segment of t h e population i n 1939 and is n o t representative of the incomes o f families i n t h a t segment today, or i n the specific averages developed f o r earners and dependents by income class. These may be expected to change w i t h shifts i n the income structure a n d f a m i l y composition of the p o p u l a t i o n . Estimates made i n the B u r e a u of Research and Statistics, f o r instance, suggest t h a t p r i m a r y dependents, as defined below, m a y v a r y f r o m 1.05 to 1.15 per worker, depending on t h e economic assumption used. T h e r a t i o w i l l also be larger or smaller dependi n g on the relative broadness w i t h w h i c h the t e r m dependent is defined. T h e principal value of the estimates lies rather i n the magnitude of the differences i n earner a n d dependent ratios among income classes a n d among families of v a r y i n g size a n d composition, and i n the d i r e c t i o n of the change i n the r a t i o w i t h changes i n income, size of f a m i l y , n u m b e r of earners, and number of dependents. Definitions.--The family referred to i n t h i s article is the census " p r i vate f a m i l y , " defined as c o m p r i s i n g "a family head and a l l other persons i n the home who are related to the head by blood, marriage or adoption, and who live together and share c o m m o n housekeeping arrangements." A person l i v i n g alone is considered a one-person f a m i l y . A n urban family is a f a m i l y l i v i n g i n an area defined by the Bureau of the Census as u r b a n , generally a c i t y or other i n c o r p o r a t e d place h a v i n g 2,500 or more i n h a b i tants. The family head is the person regarded by the other f a m i l y members as the head. T h e head is usually the chief earner; i n some cases, however, the head is t h e parent of the chief earner. Children are u n m a r r i e d f a m i l y members u n d e r age 18 related to the head, b u t n o t nec-

essarily the children of t h e head. A m o n g the 19.2 m i l l i o n c h i l d r e n i n u r b a n families i n 1940, 17.8 m i l l i o n , or 93 percent, were c h i l d r e n of t h e head, 1 m i l l i o n were g r a n d c h i l d r e n , and 0.4 m i l l i o n were other relatives. Wage or salary income includes a l l money received i n 1939 i n compensat i o n for work or services performed as employees, including commissions, tips, piece-rate payments, bonuses, and so on, as well as receipts c o m m o n l y referred to as wages or salaries. The value of income received i n k i n d , such as l i v i n g quarters, meals, and clothing, is n o t included. A n earner is a person 14 years o l d or over who reported t h a t he received $1 or more of wage or salary income i n 1939. A small number consisted of p a r t t i m e or seasonal workers, persons n o t o r d i n a r i l y i n the labor force. Some labor-force members i n M a r c h 1940, on t h e other hand, were riot classified as earners since they h a d no earnings i n 1939, either because of disability or unemployment or because t h e y were self-employed i n 1939 or because t h e y entered the labor force as new m e m bers after December 1939. Dependents are wives not i n the labor force of f a m i l y heads who are earners, a n d u n m a r r i e d children under 18, n o t i n the labor force, l i v i n g i n a f a m i l y whose head is a relative and a n earner. Such persons are sometimes referred to i n the article as p r i m a r y dependents, since they exclude n o n w o r k i n g parents, disabled husbands, a n d older children, who could be included i n a broader definition of the t e r m dependent. Other persons are f a m i l y members who are neither earners n o r dependents, as defined, i n c l u d i n g nonearner f a m i l y heads, c h i l d r e n over age 18 at school, and other adult relatives of the head n o t i n the labor force.

1939, t w o - t h i r d s of the families l i v i n g i n u r b a n areas and w i t h income f r o m wages or salary only h a d one earner, 25 percent h a d t w o earners, and 8 percent h a d three or more.

Families N u m b e r of earners Number Percentage distribution 100.0 67.5 24.7 7.9

Total 1 earner 2 earners 3 or more earners

11,132,500 7,509,440 2,747,740 875,320

Families w i t h more earners generally enjoy a larger income. I n 1939 more t h a n 9 o u t of 10 families w i t h incomes below $200 had only one earner. A m o n g families reporting income of $3,000-4,999, only 39 percent h a d one earner, 35 percent h a d t w o earners, and 26 percent h a d t h r e e or more. The influence of number of earners u p o n f a m i l y income is i l l u s t r a t e d i n table 4. Size of family.--The rise shown i n table 4 i n average numbers of earners as f a m i l y income moves u p is accompanied, i t m a y be observed, by a c o n c u r r e n t - i n c r e a s e i n average f a m i l y size. W h a t is the r e l a t i o n of these three factors? W h e n families are classified by size, the following p a t t e r n emerges:

Average number of earners 1.48 1.00 1.29 1.32 1.54 2.06 Median family income $1,476 830 1,413 1,520 1,636 1,612

Persons i n f a m i l y

Total 1 2 3 4 5 or more

Number

of

Earners

1

Most families w i t h wage or salary income have only one earner. In

For a n earlier analysis of f a m i l y income a n d f a m i l y composition, based o n t h e 1935-36 N a t i o n a l H e a l t h Survey, a n d u s i n g t h e bio-legal concept of t h e f a m i l y as d i s t i n g u i s h e d f r o m t h e census f a m i l y ber 1939; " G a i n f u l Workers a n d I n c o m e concept employed in t h i s a r t i c l e , see t h e i n U r b a n S i n g l e - F a m i l y Households," f o l l o w i n g articles i n t h e Social Security December 1939; " I n c o m e , C h i l d r e n , a n d Bulletin: " T h e Economic Status o f U r b a n G a i n f u l Workers i n Single-Family HouseFamilies a n d C h i l d r e n , " M a y 1939; " I n - h o l d s , " F e b r u a r y 1940; " I n c o m e , C h i l d r e n , come of U r b a n Families a n d I n d i v i d u a l s a n d G a i n f u l Workers i n U r b a n M u l t i i n S i n g l e - F a m i l y Households," SeptemF a m i l y Households," A p r i l 1940.

1

Each step-up i n family size is associated w i t h a gain i n b o t h number of earners a n d a m o u n t of income, except t h a t families of five or more have a smaller income t h a n families of four. T h i s suggests t h a t the association o f size a n d income m a y n o t h o l d for r e l a tively large families. D a t a based o n a sample differing slightly f r o m t h e

Table 1.--Median income in 1939 of urban families with wage or salary income only, by size of family, age, sex, and marital status of head.

M a l e head (married, wife present) a g e d Persons i n family Total Total Under 35 $1,407 --1,510 1,583 1,694 1,693 1,654 1,584 1,507 1,373 1,385 1,321 1,251 1,110 3544 45-54 55 a n d over $1,654 --1,557 1,848 1,975 1,942 1,884 1,807 1,303 1,678 2,003 2,142 2,202 2,200 Other male head Female head

Total 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 or more

$1,496 854 1,431 1,549 1,675 1.681 1,653 1,590

$1,601 ---

$1,702 --1,676 1,770 1,786 1,687 1,556 1,376 Families,

$1,811 ---

$1,156 904 1,347 1,646 1,831 1,891 1,904 1,873

$972 803 938 1,132 1,260 1,379 1,501 1,576

Source: Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940: Population, table 8.

Size_of Family

and Age of Head,

one used to obtain the averages i n table 1 support such a view. T h e y yield a median income of $1,675 for families of four, $1,681 for families of five, $1,653 f o r families of six, a n d $1,590 for families of seven or more. T h e correlation, i n other words, is good u p to families of five; beyond t h a t p o i n t there appears an increasing disp a r i t y between size of f a m i l y a n d income. Number o f earners, on the other h a n d , is directly related to size of f a m i l y a n d amount of f a m i l y income:

Average number of persons per family 3.37 3.08 3.45 5.57 Median family income

median wage or salary earnings i n 1939 were reported by men i n the age class 35-44, whereas the men w i t h the largest average families were i n the age class 45-54, w h e n earnings had begun to decline. W h e n i t is borne i n m i n d t h a t , i n husband-wife f a m ilies, the average age of the head rises i n each successive f a m i l y size beyond two-person families, the unfavorable effect of the decreasing earnings of older workers o n family-size-income relationships i n one-earner families m a y be readily appreciated.

Of somewhat more significance, perhaps, is t h e influence of occupat i o n on earnings a n d f a m i l y size. Among the major occupational classes i n the census there appears t o be a "substantial negative correlation between t h e t w o . F a m i l y heads classified as laborers, as operatives and k i n d r e d workers, a n d as craftsmen, foremen, a n d k i n d r e d workers had more c h i l d r e n i n 1940 t h a n heads who were clerical, sales and k i n d r e d workers, proprietors, managers a n d officials, a n d professional a n d semiprofessional workers. M e d i a n earnings i n the first three groups, on the other h a n d , were considerably smaller t h a n those i n the other groups. For u r b a n families dependent on the earnings of one person only, i n summary, the d o w n w a r d t r e n d i n i n come i n larger f a m i l i e s may be a t t r i b u t e d i n p a r t to t h e increase i n average age of the head i n larger families a n d the decline i n his earnings because of age, b u t more i m p o r t a n t l y to the tendency of workers i n occupations y i e l d i n g a lower i n come to have more c h i l d r e n t h a n

N u m b e r of earners

Chart 1.--Median income of families with specified number of wage earners, by size of family

Total 1 2 3 or more

$1,476 1,303 1,810 2,574

W h a t accounts for the association of number of earners w i t h b o t h f a m i l y size a n d f a m i l y income, b u t the decline i n income i n larger families? I t may be useful to examine first the relationship of f a m i l y size and income when the number of earners is held constant. A m o n g one-earner families the same p a t t e r n i n the trends i n size and income m a y be noted as i n a l l families, t h a t is, median income increases w i t h size up to five persons, t h e n declines. Since the earner i n one-earner f a m ilies was t h e head i n 94 cases out of 100--a r a t i o w h i c h increased w i t h i n come, reaching 99 percent i n families w i t h a n income of $5,000 or more-- some plausibility attaches to the suggestion t h a t income drops i n larger families w i t h one earner because the age at w h i c h i n d i v i d u a l earnings are a t t h e i r m a x i m u m does not coincide w i t h the age of the head at w h i c h families are biggest. The highest

workers i n the higher-paid occupations. The nonassociation of family size and income i n larger families appears also i n families w i t h two earners, w i t h three earners, and so on (chart 1 ) . The recurrence of this pattern suggests that the earnings of the head are the dominant element i n the family-income picture. The presence of additional earners raises the level of family income, but not the general outline of the family-income-familysize contour. The determining factors appear to be three: the head is an earner i n nearly all families; only one family i n three has secondary earners; secondary earners have smaller earnings than primary earners. Ninety-three out of a hundred family heads reported earnings i n 1939.

Families w i t h -- Type of earner A t least 1 earner Total Head an earner Only earner Other earners present Head not an earner One earner Other earners present 11,132,500 2 or more earners 3,623,000

Table 2.--Average number of persons per family in labor force, urban families, by size and sex and marital status of head, 1940

Average number of persons in labor force, by size of family Type of family Total 1.54 1.54 --.96 --.58 --1 00 1.52 .70 1.00 .82 --1 1.00 2 3 1.41 1.34 .97 .37 1.79 .57 1.22 4 1.57 1.53 .96 .57 1.84 .44 1.40 5 or more 2.12 2.05 .92 1.13 2.58 .43 2.15

Total Husband-wife families Head Others Other families Head Others

1.26 1.26 .99 .27 1.27 .66 .61

Source: Estimated from sources listed in foot note to table 4.

ers on the relationship of family size and family income. Among urban families w i t h a wom a n head (single, widowed, divorced, or separated) no decrease i n income took place i n 1939 i n larger families. The peak i n income for families headed by a single, widowed, divorced, or separated m a n was not reached u n t i l families of six. Among husbandwife families, by contrast, the largest median income was shown by families of four and five. Differentiation by age of family head may also be noted. When the husband i n husband-wife families was under age 35, the two-person family had the highest income; when he was i n the ages 35-54, median income was at a peak i n four-person families; when he was 55 or older the family w i t h six or more persons had the highest income (table 1 ) . The association of family size and income, i n other words, was more pronounced for families sometimes referred to as broken families, and, among so-called normal families (i. e. husband-wife families), for families w i t h an older head. Now one of the ways i n w h i c h the broken family differs from the n o r m a l family is i n the presence of fewer children, both absolutely (average for a l l families) and relatively (families of the same size). Conversely the broken family has proportionately more adult relatives and more members i n the labor force (table 2 ) . Similarly, husbandwife families w i t h heads past 45 years have relatively fewer children t h a n families w i t h younger heads and proportionately more adult relatives of the head and more members i n the labor force. Since only a negligible number of children are i n the labor force (3 out of 100 i n urban families i n 1940 as compared w i t h almost 1 i n 3 among adult relatives), increases i n family size are accompanied by a more r a p i d growth i n the number of earners and i n income among broken families t h a n among normal families, and among families w i t h older heads t h a n among f a m i lies w i t h younger heads. I n broken families, and i n families w i t h an older head, furthermore, the influence of the earnings of the head on t o t a l family income, the i m p o r t ance of which has been alluded t o earlier, is diminished by the smaller proportion of heads i n the labor force and the reduced earnings of such heads. I n 1940 only 4 i n 10 women heads of families were i n the labor force, as compared w i t h 3 i n 4 male heads of broken families and 9 i n 10 heads i n husband-wife families. The ratio of heads i n the labor force among husband-wife families fell from 99 percent i n the ages under 45 years to 47 percent of heads 65 years and older. Of the same significance are the lower average earnings of heads of broken families as compared w i t h the heads of husband-wife families, and the decline i n the average earnings of family heads beyond age 45. I n 1939, heads of urban husband-wife families w i t h income from wages or salary only reported median earnings of $1,406; male heads of broken f a m ilies, $1,105; women heads, $766. The median for male heads 35 to 44 years was $1,507; for male heads 45 to 64 years, $1,456; for male heads 65 years and over, $1,213. A l l three factors--less frequent membership of the head i n the labor force, lower average earnings of the

10,377,000 3,312,800 7,064,200 --3,312,500 3,312,800 310,260 755,500 445,240 --310,260 310,260

The median income of earner heads i n families w i t h income from wages or salary only was $1,344; of wives, $650; of children under age 18, $154; and of other relatives of the head, $740. While larger families tend to have more earners, and families w i t h more earners average more income, the i n come of families w i t h the same n u m ber of earners begins to drop shortly after the family-size point at which a decline i n the earnings of the p r i m a r y worker sets i n . The additional i n come supplied by secondary workers i n larger families is not sufficient to overcome entirely the drop i n the earnings of the primary worker. Hence the correlation i n the aggregate of number of earners w i t h both family size and family income, but the decline i n income i n larger f a m i lies. composition.--Data on f a m ily size and income by sex, m a r i t a l status, and age of head illustrate the relative influence of the earner status of the head, the earnings of the head, and the presence of secondary earn-

Family

Table 3---Percentage distribution of urban families with wage or salary income only, by size of income in 1939, and sex and marital status of head

Other famHusilies bandwife famFeilies Male male head head 100.0 100.0 7.1 16.8 21.9 20.5 14.0 7.4 9.9 2.4 17.8 25.5 20.0 13.6 8.9 4.8 7.4 1.9 100.0 24.4 26.4 19.3 12.7 7.2 3.8 5.2 1.1

Family income

Total

Total $1-499 500-999 1,000-1,499 1,500-1,999 2,000-2,499 2,500-2,999 3,000-4,999 5,000 or more

100.0 10.1 18.6 21.4 19.0 12.8 6.8 9.1 2.2

Source: Sixteenth Census of the United Stales, 1940: Population, Families, Family Wage or Salary Income, 1939, table 9.

head, and more frequent presence of other workers--tend to enhance the importance of secondary earners i n broken families and by the same token to produce a more direct association i n such families between family size and family income. These factors also account, of course, for the higher average income of husband-wife families as compared w i t h broken families and, among the latter, for the more favorable economic status of families w i t h a male head. The effect on the relative distribution of family types among i n come classes is illustrated i n table 3. The relationships of family size,

family composition, and family i n come set out i n this article are roughly descriptive of the relationships at one point i n time, the 1940 census week. Were the data available, i t is possible t h a t similar patterns could be developed for 1930. Most families i n existence i n both years would, however, be found i n different size and income classes, i n 1930; some, i n addition, would shift from one family type to another. The structure and economic status of families, i n other words, change w i t h time. This fact suggests t h a t many of the phenomena noted here reflect different aspects of the family life cycle, and t h a t an analysis based on the life cycle would yield additional insights into size-composition-income relationships.

2

be seen to be more widely dispersed than earners, nearly half of whom were i n families w i t h one earner only.

Families Number of p r i m a r y dependents Number Percentage distribution 100.0 31.1 29.6 18.3 21.1

Total 0 1 2 3 or more

11,132,500 3,459,783 3,294,183 2,032,981 2,345,553

Number of Primary

Dependents

By definition all families w i t h wage or salary income have at least one earner. Not a l l of these families, however, have primary dependents. Three i n every ten urban families w i t h wage or salary income only i n 1939 had no primary dependents, three had one, two h a d two primary dependents, and two had three or more. P r i m a r y dependents may thus

See,. f o r instance, W . S. Woytinsky, "Income Cycle i n the Life of Families a n d " I n d i v i d u a l s , " Social Security Bulletin, June 1943, p p . 8-17.

2

I f the t e r m "dependents" were broadened to include nonworking parents living w i t h the family head or supported by h i m i n whole or part, disabled husbands of women earners, and nonworking children over age 18; these proportions would change somewhat, but not significantly. The present analysis is limited to wives and children because their status as dependents is usually taken for granted i n insurance systems paying dependents' benefits; they account for almost a l l dependents, however defined; and more data are available for them t h a n for other types of dependents. Among urban families w i t h wage or salary income only i n 1939, primary dependents comprised 89 percent of a l l nonearners. Families w i t h very low incomes tend to have relatively fewer primary de-

Table 4.--Urban families with wage or salary income only, number of persons, number of earners, number of primary dependents, by size offamily income, 1939

1

N u m b e r of persons F a m i l y income class Number of families Total Earners Primary dependents 18,657,443 374,540 822,981 1,173,416 1,485,800 1,401,119 1,614,008 1,892,004 1,826,907 2,576,703 2,377,533 1,162,095 1,522,880 427,457

Average number of persons per family Primary dependents 1.68 1.45 1.53 1.67 1.71 1.70 1.74 1.78 1.81 1.71 1.67 1.54 1.50 1.76

Number of earners and dependents Per family Per earner 2.13 2.34 2.31 2.37 2.38 2,30 2.32 2.37 2.34 2.15 2.04 1.83 1.70 1.86

Others

Total

Earners

Others

Total $1-199 200-399 409-599 600-799 800-999 1,000-1,199 1,200-1,399 1,400-1,599 1,600-1,999 2,000-2,499 2,500-2,999 3,000-4,999 5,000 or more

1

11,132,500 258,520 538,740 704,120 869,280 826,420 926,120 1,060,080 1,009,380 1,506,080 1,423,420 752,440 1,015,040 242,880

37,481,997 699,760 1,556,855 2,173,113 2,739,916 2,648,804 3,024,588 3,487,884 3,399,920 5,144,373 4,965,036 2,744,988 3,936,463 960,297

16,491,582 279,763 627,028 855,918 1,076,143 1,075,470 1,219,822 1,383,177 1,364,835 2,242,799 2,278,466 1,408,271 2,182,960 496,930

2,332,972 45,457 106,846 143,779 177,973 172,215 190,758 212,703 208,178 324,871 309,037 174,622 230,623 35, 910

3.37 2.71 2.89 3.09 3.15 3.21 3.27 3.29 3.37 3.42 3.49 3.65 3.88 3.95

1.48 1.08 1.16 1.22 1.24 1.30 1.32 1.30 1.35 1.49 1.60 1.87 2.15 2.05

0.21 .18 .20 .20 .20 .21 .21 .20 .21 .22 .22 .23 .23 .15

3.16 2.53 2.69 2.88 2.95 3.00 3.06 3.09 3.16 3.20 3.27 3.42 3.65 3.81

Earners are persons 14 years old and over who reported receipt i n 1939 of $1 or more i n wages or salary. Primary dependents are wives not i n the labor force of family heads who are earners and unmarried children under 18 not i n the labor force, living i n a family whose head is a relative and an earner. "Others" are related to head b u t are neither earners nor dependents. Source: Estimated from following volumes of the Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940: Population, Families, Family Wage or Salary Income, 1939, tables

4, 5, 6, 9, 11; Population, Families, Types of Families, tables 3, 4, 5; Population and Housing, Families, General Characteristics, table 4; Population, The Labor Force, Wage or Salary income in 1939, tables 1, 2, 10; Population, The Labor Force, Employment and Personal Characteristics, table 19; Population, Volume XV, Characteristics by Age, Part 1, table 11; Population, Families, Employment Status, tables 6, 9, 10; Population, Families, Size of Family and Age of Head, table 8; Population, Characteristics of Persons Not in the Labor Force, table 17.

Chart 2.--Median income of families of specified size, by number of dependents

no dependents. I n families of two the average number of p r i m a r y dependents is largest i n the lowest i n come class, smallest i n the class $3,000-4,999. The explanation of course is t h a t two-person families i n w h i c h b o t h persons are wage e a r n ers t e n d to have more income t h a n two-person families w i t h one earner only. As a result, two-earner f a m ilies, as a percent of a l l two-person families, increase w i t h income, yieldi n g i n t u r n a steady rise w i t h income i n the average number of earners per f a m i l y . Concurrently a decline takes place i n the average number of n o n earners, among w h o m p r i m a r y dependents outnumber other persons by more t h a n four to one. S i m i l a r size relationships may be observed i n families of three, four, and five or more persons, each c o n sidered separately. W i t h i n each family-size class, i n other words, p r i m a r y dependents are most frequent i n the lowest income brackets and become increasingly less frequent as one moves up the income scale. Or, put another way, median income i n families of the same size tends to be largest i n families w i t h no dependents and t o drop w i t h each successive increase i n t h e number of dependents (chart 2 ) .

pendents t h a n families i n the middle income range, among w h o m is to be found the heaviest concentration of dependents. Increases i n f a m i l y i n come beyond t h a t received by the middle group are generally accompanied by a decline i n t h e average number of dependents. A secondary concentration of p r i m a r y dependents occurs i n families w i t h incomes of $5,000 or more (table 4 ) . Family size.--Family size and n u m ber of p r i m a r y dependents are closely related, t h a t is, the larger the family, the larger the number of dependents. M e d i a n family income, as already noted, rises as families increase i n size b u t drops among larger families.

Average number of primary dependents 1.68 0 .52 1.35 2.23 3.76

Consistent w i t h this p a t t e r n , f a m i l y size increases w i t h the number of p r i m a r y dependents, but f a m i l y i n come, after rising to a peak i n f a m ilies w i t h two dependents, falls i n families w i t h three or more dependents.

N u m b e r of p r i m a r y dependents Average number of persons 3.37 1.99 2.68 3.53 5.36 Median family income $1,476 1,404 1,450 1,645 1,463

Total 0 1 2 3 or more

Persons i n family

Median family income

Total 1 2 3 4 5 or more

$1,476 830 1,413 1,520 1,636 1,612

For families up to four persons, i n creases i n family size w o u l d seem associated w i t h increases i n b o t h average number of p r i m a r y dependents a n d i n family income. Is there any direct r e l a t i o n between t h e last two? T o w h a t extent is i t influenced by t h e factor of f a m i l y size, w h i c h increases w i t h b o t h income and number of dependents? W h a t happens w h e n f a m i l y size is held constant? Families of one, by definition, have

I n the aggregate, however, t h a t is, among the t o t a l number of families, t h e negative relationship of income a n d number of dependents is obscured b y distortions introduced as a result of differences i n the represent a t i o n of families of v a r y i n g sizes. M e d i a n income is lowest, i t w i l l be recalled, among one-person families, increases w i t h f a m i l y size up to f a m ilies of five, a n d then declines. The median income of families w i t h no dependents is relatively low because 30 percent are one-person families, while another 52 percent are t w o person families. Families w i t h one dependent have a somewhat larger median income because they c o n t a i n no one-person families and include relatively more families of two or more persons. Families w i t h t w o dependents i n t u r n average more i n come t h a n families w i t h one; one a n d two-person families are absent, and there are more families of three or more persons. Beyond the second dependent, however, median income drops because of the increasing rep-

resentation of families of six and seven or more persons. I n the l i g h t of these considerations i t becomes clear w h y the average n u m ber of p r i m a r y dependents shown i n table 4 increases w i t h income between t h e $1-199 a n d $1,400-1,599 classes, r a t h e r t h a n the reverse. As one moves u p the income scale, f a m i l y size grows larger a n d average number of dependents increases. Somewhere around $1,400-1,599, however, a t u r n i n g p o i n t is reached; families continue to grow larger as income increases, b u t such increases are accounted for entirely by earners, a n d the relative number of dependents declines. To a signific a n t extent the whole p a t t e r n is affected by the presence of one-person families, for when such families are e l i m i n a t e d the average number of dependents generally drops w i t h income gains, n o t only i n the upper brackets b u t a l l along the income scale. Family composition.--Since average income i n families of the same size declines as the average number of p r i m a r y dependents increases, and since dependents are d r a w n entirely f r o m among wives and c h i l d r e n under 18, the average number of wives a n d c h i l d r e n should be larger i n l o w income t h a n i n high-income families ( t h a t is, of the same size). Tabulations crossing income of husband and of wife indicate t h a t the p r o p o r t i o n of wives w i t h no earnings and who can therefore be classified as dependents was lowest for husbands i n . the b o t t o m income bracket a n d highest f o r husbands i n the class $5,000 or more. T h i s would seem t o confirm the common observation t h a t a m a r r i e d woman is more likely to be w o r k i n g w h e n her husband's earnings are small t h a n when they are large. I t suggests also t h a t the average n u m ber of dependent wives among husband-wife families does not decline w i t h f a m i l y income, but quite the contrary. T a k e n i n conjunction w i t h the relative sparsity of husband-wife families i n t h e low incomes, the decrease i n earners among wives as the husband's income rises makes for a m a r k e d correlation among the t o t a l number of families between the average number of dependent wives a n d average size of f a m i l y income. Children, who account for most dependents, do not, however, follow this p a t t e r n . T h e y increase i n frequency

up to the income class $1,000-1,499 and t h e n decline i n relative number, e x h i b i t i n g i n t h i s respect a t r e n d similar to t h a t noted earlier for dependents as a whole, a n d for a p p r o x i mately the same reasons. More t h a n 40 percent of the families w i t h a n i n come of less t h a n $500 i n 1939 and nearly 30 percent of the families w i t h a n income of $500-999 were broken families, among w h o m families w i t h no c h i l d r e n were t w i c e as frequent as among husband-wife families. W h e n the analysis is confined to families w i t h children, a different picture emerges. C h i l d r e n were most numerous i n the lowest income class, w h i c h h a d the highest p r o p o r t i o n of families w i t h three or more c h i l d r e n , a n d least numerous i n the class $3,000-4,999, w h i c h h a d the smallest proportion. Since 9 i n every 10 c h i l d r e n were dependents, the negative correlation of average number of c h i l d r e n and f a m i l y income m a y also be presumed to exist for dependent children as well.

Family income Total $1-499 500-999 1,000-1,499 1,500-1,999 2,000-2,499 2,500-2,999 3,000-4,999 5,000 o r m o r e Average n u m b e r of c h i l d r e n per f a m i l y for families with children 1.96 2.14 2.08 1.98 1.92 1.88 1.84 1.81 1.83

alization is true of families of the same size, but n o t o f a l l families i n the aggregate. Families w i t h two earners average fewer dependents t h a n families w i t h one, b u t among families w i t h three or more earners there are relatively more dependents t h a n among families w i t h two because of the factor of f a m i l y size.

Average number of p r i m a r y dependents, b y size of f a m i l y N u m b e r of earners Total 1 --2 3 4 5 or more 3.76 4.68 3.55 2.08

Total 1 2 3 or more

1.68 1.86 --1.28 --1.41 ---

0.52 ----.74

1.35 1.63 .74 ---

2.23 2.80 1.63 .33

The relative number of earners i n families of the same size, conversely, decreases as the number of p r i m a r y dependents rises. T h e influence of f a m i l y size, again, disturbs the correlation for families i n the t o t a l .

Average n u m b e r of earners, b y size of family 5 or more 2.06 4.98 3.58 2.90 1.74

N u m b e r of primary dependents

Total

1

2

3

4

Total 0 1 2 3 or more

1.48

1.00

1.29

1.32

1.54 3.82 2.28 1.57 1.00

1.61 2.30 1.70 1.00 1.37 --1.00 1.42 --1.36 --1.00 ----1.47 ---

T h e influence of the nonassociation of c h i l d r e n a n d f a m i l y income may be expected to be most pronounced among husband-wife families, w h i c h contained 91 percent of the children i n u r b a n families i n 1940. Such f a m ilies, i n c l u d i n g those w i t h no c h i l dren, averaged 1.30 c h i l d r e n i n the income classes $1-499 and $500-999, a n average w h i c h declined to 0.93 i n the income class $3,000-4,999. A m o n g broken families w i t h a female head there was the same general tendency for the average to decline w i t h rising income. B r o k e n families w i t h male heads, o n t h e other hand, showed an increase i n the average, a circumstance related to the specific characteristics of such families. Number of earners.--With 94 out of 100 f a m i l y members either earners or p r i m a r y dependents (table 4 ) , families w i t h more earners should have fewer dependents. This gener-

T h e effect of these relationships on f a m i l y income is consistent w i t h the data cited earlier. F a m i l y size i n creases w i t h income (table 4 ) . Among one-earner families, the larger f a m i l y size is necessarily accounted for ent i r e l y by p r i m a r y dependents, t h a t is, t h e average number of dependents i n creases w i t h income a l l t h e way up the income scale, not, as i n the case of a l l families, up to the $1,400-1,599 class only. Among families w i t h two or more earners, however, the gain i n f a m i l y size as income rises is attributable entirely to more earners and the relative number of dependents declines as income rises.

Total Number of Earners Primary Dependents

and

I n an insurance system p a y i n g dependents' benefits, p o t e n t i a l beneficiaries include b o t h earners a n d t h e i r dependents. I t may be of some i n t e r est, therefore, t o examine t h e relation

of these two groups i n the aggregate to f a m i l y income. Earners, i t has been noted, increase i n relative number w h e n f a m i l y i n come rises, whereas t h e average n u m ber of dependents declines after t h e $1,400-1,599 class. W h e n the n u m ber of earners and t h a t of dependents are combined, the earner p a t t e r n is dominant, the potential number of beneficiaries per f a m i l y going u p w i t h each rise i n income (table 4 ) . The curve f o r potential beneficiaries per earner, suggestive of the r e l a t i o n between average c o n t r i b u t i o n a n d average benefit by income class, exhibits quite a different profile, r e m a i n i n g at approximately the same level i n the income classes below $1,600, t h e n f a l l i n g r a p i d l y as the average number of dependents shrinks. The number of p o t e n t i a l beneficiaries per f a m i l y a n d per earner i n creases w i t h f a m i l y size, the first average more rapidly t h a n t h e second because gains i n f a m i l y size are accounted f o r more by dependents t h a n by earners.

Average n u m b e r of earners and primary dependents Per family Total 1 2 3 4 5 or more 3.16 1.00 1.81 2.67 3.77 5.81 Per earner 2.13 1.00 1.40 2.02 2.44 2.83

potential beneficiaries remains i n a one-to-one relationship to earners as the l a t t e r increase, the number of p r i m a r y dependents tends to drop.

Earners i n family Total 1 2 3 or m o r e 2.86 1.64 1.35 Average n u m b e r of earners a n d p r i m a r y dependents per earner 2.13

ber of dependents is distorted by the influence of f a m i l y size. As a result, the average number of p r i m a r y dependents i n u r b a n families w i t h wage and salary income only increases w i t h income up to the middle of the income range, r a t h e r t h a n the reverse. Beyond the middle of the income range, however, p r i m a r y dependents become relatively less frequent w i t h each successive income class. 6. Under any definition of dependents, the larger number would be c h i l d r e n . A m o n g u r b a n families w i t h c h i l d r e n the average number of c h i l dren is negatively correlated w i t h income. Since c h i l d r e n are relatively more numerous i n husband-wife f a m ilies t h a n i n families of other types, the average number of dependents is higher i n husband-wife families. 7. F o r families of the same size, i n creases i n the number of earners are accompanied b y a decrease i n the number of p r i m a r y dependents and vice versa. A m o n g one-earner f a m ilies t h e average number of dependents increases w i t h f a m i l y income; the reverse is t r u e o f families w i t h two o r more earners. 8. W h e n earners and dependents are added together, the aggregate represents p o t e n t i a l beneficiaries i n a social insurance system paying dependents' benefits. T h e number of such beneficiaries per u r b a n f a m i l y increases directly w i t h income. As a n average per earner, however, i t remains at a p p r o x i m a t e l y the same level u p to the m i d d l e of the income range, t h e n declines rapidly. 9. T h e relative number of potential beneficiaries as thus defined is larger i n husband-wife families t h a n i n families of other types, and increases w i t h increases i n f a m i l y size, n u m ber of earners, and number of dependents. 10. Under conditions obtaining i n 1939-40, the average u r b a n f a m i l y with income f r o m wages or salary only had about one a n d a h a l f earners and about one and t w o - t h i r d s p r i m a r y dependents. P o t e n t i a l beneficiaries under a social insurance system paying benefits to b o t h earners a n d p r i mary dependents averaged a l i t t l e over three per f a m i l y , a l i t t l e over two per earner. T h e average per f a m i l y increasedf r o m about t w o and a half i n the lowest income class to almost four

Summary and

Conclusions

Persons i n family

The number of potential beneficiaries per f a m i l y increases also w i t h both number of earners a n d number of dependents, separately considered. This association reflects m a i n l y the influence of f a m i l y size. A m o n g 2 and 3-person families only 1 i n 10 f a m i l y members is neither an earner nor a p r i m a r y dependent, a r a t i o which drops to 6 percent i n 4-person families a n d to 3 percent i n families of 5 or more. W h i l e dependents are fewer as the number of earners i n creases, and vice versa, the s u m of the two of necessity grows larger as either one or the other goes up. Per i n d i v i d u a l earner, on the other hand, the average number of potent i a l beneficiaries declines as the n u m ber of earners increases, for while the earner component i n the number of

1. Larger urban families t e n d to have more earners, and families w i t h more earners to have a higher income. T h e association of f a m i l y size and f a m i l y income is positive, however, only i n small and middle-sized f a m ilies. I n larger families income declines. 2. The earnings of the u r b a n f a m i l y head largely determine the general level of f a m i l y income. Divergent trends i n f a m i l y size and f a m i l y i n come i n larger families seem to be related to the nonassociation, occupat i o n a l l y , of the f e r t i l i t y a n d earnings patterns of the f a m i l y head. 3. T h e association of f a m i l y size and income i n u r b a n families is most pronounced for broken families and for families w i t h a n older head, t h a t is, families w i t h relatively fewer c h i l dren and relatively more earners t h a n husband-wife families a n d families w i t h younger heads. I n such families the influence of the earnings of the head o n total f a m i l y income is d i m i n ished by the smaller p r o p o r t i o n of heads i n the labor force and the reduced earnings of such heads, factors w h i c h t e n d to enhance the importance of secondary earners and t h e role of t h e i r earnings i n the t o t a l income of the f a m i l y . 4. Increases i n urban f a m i l y size are accompanied by an increase i n the average number of p r i m a r y dependents, t h a t is, nonearner wives and children under age 18. Since income declines i n the larger families, more p r i m a r y dependents generally mean less income. 5. W i t h i n each family-size class, median income tends to be largest i n families w i t h no dependents and to drop w i t h each successive increase i n the number of p r i m a r y dependents. I n the aggregate, however, the negative relationship of income and n u m -

i n t h e t o p income class. O n a per earner basis, however, potential beneficiaries averaged about two and a t h i r d i n the low and middle income classes and declined i n the upper i n come ranges. 11. Dependents' benefits are sometimes justified on the ground t h a t earners w i t h dependents require a h i g h e r benefit income t h a n the benef i t f o r m u l a by itself allows. D a t a cited i n t h i s article suggest t h a t t h e earnings of workers w i t h dependents are generally higher t h a n the e a r n ings o f other workers. A benefit

f o r m u l a based on wages therefore yields a higher benefit for workers w i t h dependents. T h e difference i n the benefit amount is seldom large enough, however, to absorb the a d d i t i o n a l requirements of dependents. Dependents' benefits represent an effort to compensate for t h i s disparity. Since the r a t i o of dependents t o earners is relatively large i n the low and middle f a m i l y income classes, the payment of dependents' benefits is of m a x i m u m value to families w i t h relatively l i t t l e m a r g i n to meet emergencies.

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