Via Visual Economics. Though often presented as the domain of economists, sociologists have a lot to say about patterns of consumption and their effects. Though patterns of consumption and their effects are often presented as the domain of economists, sociologists have have a lot of interesting things to say about this topic.
Of course, some have wondered, if sociology sucks, why do economists keep on doing it?
Duran — July 10, 2009
If that is true, then your blog does sociology a massive disservice. You politicize crap beyond all recognition, and completely fail to realize that the reason marketers use stereotypical images is because that's what buyers respond to.
Give me a good healthy dose of analytical economics any day.
Hank — July 10, 2009
Oh, Duran. The point of many of these postings about marketing have been precisely about the fact that marketers choose stereotypical images because they work. The point has also been about the underlying implications about those images. Missing the point much?
Brook — July 10, 2009
Though often presented as the domain of economists, sociologists have a lot to say about patterns of consumption and their effects.
So sociologists are often presented as the domain of economists? I never knew economists could own people like that!
Sorry, but I'm a total grammar stickler--the subject here should be "patterns of consumption and their effects", not "sociologists". That's not to say sociologists don't have interesting things to say about economic topics.
john — July 10, 2009
Tara — July 11, 2009
As someone interested in the industrialisation & cheapening of food in the West, I find it interesting that only 7% of income is spent on food for the home, ie in supermarkets etc.
Since the recession has kicked in, I have read many articles of people switching to cheaper supermarkets like Lidl/Aldi so that they can continue to afford the same lifestyle (cappuccinos/holidays/dinners) etc.
jim — July 11, 2009
Interesting. No-one takes vacations?
wendy — July 11, 2009
What I found interesting about this image when I saw it (and john beat me to posting it here) is the usefulness of "averages" in general, and how that renders invisible what non-"average" consumers spend income on. Yes, of course, I understand what an "average" is and that this indeed represents an average, but how is it useful (given what it masks)?
First, you have the "average" family unit-- mother, father, and child. And their "average" income, which seems incredibly high to me (coming from a working class family).
The transportation part seems to assume car-ownership. So how would this cost vary for people who rely on public transportation? Who endure high costs and long commutes to low-paying jobs?
And healthcare seems low to me, considering the fact that so many are footing their own healthcare bills these days. Or could this be low because people are choosing not to to get medical procedures/treatment b/c of high costs and no insurance? How about when people don't even have the option of receiving insurance through their jobs even when they work close to full time? How about the cost of prescription drugs?
I'm sure there are other issues with each of these "averaged" categories, but my question is how useful is this as a whole? I'd rather see averages for different income ranges, OR a comparison of expenditures between the highest and lowest income ranges. Since averages are skewed by very high-earners, how about just looking at middle, working and lower classes?
Matt K — July 11, 2009
And of course, by creating charts like this, governments and researchers create averages, in a way. Maybe not as big a deal for this type of information, but I could see it being relevant. Just like when someone publishes, for example, the "average" amount of sex a person has each week. In that case, one might wonder: am I having too little? Too much? In this case, one might ask of oneself: am I spending spending in the wrong places? Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but it is an example of how something as apparently harmless as an average can have an impact on people.
thewhatifgirl — July 11, 2009
$63,000 does seem like a high number. I've heard an average in the mid-$40k range but I would hope that the discrepancy between the two numbers isn't caused my taxes.
Also, isn't the "average American family" now NOT mother-father-child? I thought I read that women were increasingly "head of household" and thus the picture in the center of a heterosexual couple with a child would be misleading as well.
The Nerd — July 11, 2009
I'd love to be able to compare this sort of chart across demographics. For example, I could only dream about having money enough for "cash contributions", but I'm lucky that right now my schooling doesn't cost me a thing (Pell Grant for low income). How would that look next to an upper-class citizen?
Lyndsay — July 11, 2009
Even a median might tell a little more. This makes America look rich with no range or info about quartiles.
I must say WOW to 1.9 cars per household. I've heard that before but I'm amazed every time. I KNOW not every American adult has a car so there are a lot of households that buy cars for their teenage or young adult kids?
styleygeek — July 11, 2009
The housing cost looks really low to me. I guess housing in many US cities must be a lot cheaper than it is here (Australia). $10,000 per year for shelter? That's like $13,000 AUD. That's about 2/3 of what we pay, and we live in a three room (two bedroom + lounge) apartment. I'm sure the "average" family, if it does have two adults and half a child, lives in a bigger place. I just searched our city's rental property database for places that cost $250 AUD or less per week (which is what $10,000 USD per year averages out to), and found only 11 places in our (admittedly small) STATE - all of which were studio or single bedroom units. (And they were all 20km or further out of town. No wonder this average family needs so many cars!)
Anthony Mitchell — July 12, 2009
Nice chart. Too bad the dollar figures outside of the ring are presented in a low-contrast font that is difficult to read for the 10% of American men with some form of colorblindness.
Rachael — July 12, 2009
It's nice to see the economists using 'Consumer Unit'. 3 years of hearing economics lecturers use the words 'people' and 'households' interchangeably did my nut.
SarahMC — July 12, 2009
Why does this blog attract such unapologetic assholes? If you hate it so much, Duran, why do you spend to much goddamn time commenting? YOU are the one missing the point.
Ahem. ANYWAY, I love sociology + economics. I'm going back to school for a masters in economics; a lot of what appeals to me is the sociological aspect of the field. The housing percentage seems really low to me too, but I'm sure the graph changes quite a bit depending on where one lives.
Ellen — July 12, 2009
Duran would be so disappointed to find out all the ways sociology and economics are alike.
Publicola » Blog Archive » BloGulp: Refreshing Posts from the Blogs — July 13, 2009
[...] Sociological Images: Where the Money Goes [...]
Antonio — July 16, 2009
>if sociology sucks, why do economists keep on doing it?
Well, a plausible answer comes to mind immediately:
Maybe it is not sociology that sucks, it's just sociologists...and so, sociology itself being useful and needed, and sociologists being incapable of doing it properly, economists have to do it for them.
Sorry, you did ask.
Antonio — July 16, 2009
I feel like I have to make this clear: I am not trying to be funny or sarcastic or to take sides. I just have the impression that you intended to present your question as a paradox when it has at least one perfectly straight answer. Let me put it in a clearer fashion: If they are doing it it must be because, for some reason, they think that
1) they can do it
2) there are needs they have regarding sociology that are not being met by the sociologists themselves, and they feel they can do this work themselves well enough - maybe better than sociologists even
What it comes down to is that they are not happy with the state of sociology ,but they don't disregard it as a science, they just don't think that people currently working on it are doing a good job.
Just ask: Why aren't economist's doing physics? Well, I guess they just don't think they can do a better job of it than physicists.
Andrew Garrett (werdna) 's status on Friday, 17-Jul-09 09:33:11 UTC - Identi.ca — July 17, 2009
[...] http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2009/07/10/how-the-average-us-consumer-spends-their-paycheck/ [...]