Marriage, Kids, and the Picket Fence? Household Type and Wealth among U.S. Households, 1989 to 2019.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Evidence on how parenthood impacts household wealth in the United States has been inconclusive, partially because previous studies have decontextualized parenthood from gender, marital, and relationship status. Yet, insights from economic sociology suggest that wealth-related behaviors are shaped by the intersection of identities, not by a binary classification of parental status. We examine net worth by the intersection of gender, parental, and relationship status during a period of increasing wealth inequality and family diversification. Using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances from 1989 through 2019, we show that aggregate comparisons between parents and non-parents mask substantial wealth variation across nine household types. Despite changing social selection into marriage and parenthood, married parents consistently held a wealth advantage over demographically similar adults in other household types. Married parents' wealth advantage descriptively arises from homeownership, perhaps because the combined spousal and parental identities are normatively and culturally associated with homeownership.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Percheski, C; Gibson-Davis, CM

Published Date

  • April 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 9 / 7

Start / End Page

  • 159 - 183

PubMed ID

  • 35757678

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC9231596

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2330-6696

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2330-6696

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.15195/v9.a7


  • eng