Why Double-Income Families Don't Earn Double Profits

      September 14, 2009 07:48

      How can it be that double-income families make only a little more money than families with just one breadwinner?

      According to data released by the National Statistical Office on Sunday, double-income families earned an average of W3.93 million a month during the second quarter of this year, while single-income households made around W2.90 million (US$1=W1,222).

      While double-income families made an average of W1.03 million more a month, they also spent more. Average monthly spending of double-income families amounted to W2.89 million, while single-income families spent W2.43 million.

      Monthly profit (income minus spending) for families with two incomes was W1.04 million and W480,000 for families with one. That means double-income families ended up with just W560,000 more a month than single-income households.

      ◆ Only Marginal Extra Profit

      In fact, double-income families outspent single-earners in almost every category. The biggest difference was in dining out and travel expenses, where double-income families spent W68,786 more a month than single-income ones. They also spent W68,005 more on transportation and W58,000 more on their children's education.

      There was little difference between the two groups in their children's school fees, but double-income families spent W51,487 more on private crammers. This reflects a pattern among double-income families who choose to work that way in order to make more money to pay for their children's education, or who are naturally able to spend more money on education because of their higher income.

      Families with two breadwinners also spent W19,990 more a month on clothes and shoes than families with one, W19,469 more on maids and W20,014 more on telecommunication costs. They spent W194,805 a month on money transfers to other families (allowances for retired parents, cash gifts to newlywed couples, etc.), while single-income families spent W143,339 in that category.

      ◆ Meat for Two Incomes, Fish for One

      The two groups also differed in their eating habits. Both groups spent around W250,000 a month on food, but double-income earners bought spent around W2,000 for meat than single-income ones. Single-income households, on the other hand, spent around W2,000 more for vegetables. Double-income families also bought more fruit, cookies and candy, ham, and bread, while single-income families bought W657 more in fresh seafood, vegetable and sesame oil, and seasoning.

      "Double-income families tend to consume foods that are easier to store and cook rather than items such as fish and vegetables that can spoil easily," said Park Hae-ryun, professor of food and nutrition at Myongji University.

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