Saturday, June 29, 2019

Comparing American Generations

Interesting chart from Kevin Drum comparing income and expenditures for three generations of Americans at the same point in their lives, with all numbers adjusted for inflation. It is not at all clear that Millennials are doing any worse than others.


pootrsox said...

Well, except for education and especially education loans/repayment, John.

G. Verloren said...


There's also a lot more to quality of life than raw numbers of dollars. These numbers could be wholly accurate, and yet still they tell you nothing about things like working conditions, job security, leisure hours, quality of healthcare, quality of education, quality of housing, quality of public services, etc.

Additionally, I'm always inherently suspicious of measures such as "the average household", because averages gets dragged upwards by the incredibly wealthy. A group of 100 people with 1 apple each has the exact same "apple average" as a group of 99 people with 0 apples, and 1 person who has 100 apples.

You could take half the wages of the poorest 20% of Americans away from them and give it all directly to the top 20% of Americans on the condition that they had to spend every penny of it, and the average household consumption wouldn't change one bit, mathematically speaking. Averages tell you absolutely nothing about actual distribution, and obfuscate the reality of income inequality.

John said...

@G - the data comes from the Consumer Expenditure Survey, which is not as subject to distortion by the very rich as total data would be.

@pootrsox - student loan payments are higher but other things are lower, so on the whole expenditures are about the same.