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Money Studies and Statistics (Page 1 - [Click on other pages for more])

Disclaimer: Legacy cannot vouch for the accuracy of these studies and surveys. We document where we found the information, which is sometimes primary and sometimes secondary. But we felt the data was important enough to pass on, rather than wait until we got to the bottom of each stat.

Page One
Money Studies

Personal Savings
Money Problems Among Elderly
Average Income
Health Insurance
Job Happiness
Personal Spending

Page Two
Money Studies

Youth and Money
Motivating Students
How Formal Education Impacts Earnings

Page Three
Money Studies

Finding Money Studies and Statistics

Personal Savings At All Time Lows

"People once again spent everything they made and then some last year, pushing the personal savings rate to the lowest level since the Great Depression more than seven decades ago."

"The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the savings rate for all of 2006 was a negative 1 percent, meaning that not only did people spend all the money they earned but they also dipped into savings or increased borrowing to finance purchases. The 2006 figure was lower than a negative 0.4 percent in 2005 and was the poorest showing since a negative 1.5 percent savings rate in 1933 during the Depression." (Associated Press, Feb. 5, 2007)

Money Problems Among the Elderly

As reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ("Golden Years are Often in the Red" by Bob Moos, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2007)

According to the Boston-based National Consumer Law Center
( www.consumerlaw.org -
See their articles on "The Life and Debt Cycle", July, 2006)

  • 93% of retirees carry some debt

  • 30% of retirees describe their debts as a problem

  • 27% of homeowner retirees haven't paid off their mortgages

  • 24% of Medicare beneficiaries report financial problems from medical bills

  • 14% of 64-year-olds face retirement with a negative net worth

  • Average credit card debt for 65 to 69 year olds grew 217 percent over the last ten years to $5,844

  • Medicare leaves Seniors paying much of their medical bills. Seniors average paying $3,500 of their own medical costs each year. That's a 45 percent increase in 10 years.

The article recommends that seniors get help from groups such as the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of North Central Texas, a nonprofit agency. Sometimes they can talk to credit card companies and get them to cut their rates.

A 2004 study by Demos ( www.demos.org ) found people within 10 years of retirement "spending an average of one-third of their income on debt payments."

A 2005 Gallup Poll found that "retirement is the financial issue Americans are most worried about." Just over half thought they would be able to live comfortably in retirement. ( www.galluppoll.com - Retirement Expectations, Reality Not Entirely Consistent, by Jeffrey M. Jones, May 2, 2005)

"...according to Federal Reserve Board statistics, Americans are not saving nearly enough for their own retirements.... According to Gallup's annual Personal Finance poll, conducted April 2-5, 2007, nearly three-quarters of nonretired Americans say they plan to rely on income from part-time work after they "retire," to help fund their golden years. This includes 21% who say part-time work will be a major income source for them, and another 52% who say it will be a minor source." (This is Not Your Father's Retirement: How the Next Generation of Retirees Could be a Productive Working Class, by Lydia Saad, May 4, 2007)

Average U.S. Income, 2006

(From U.S. Census - www.census.gov , drawn from about 100,000 addresses surveyed. See the 2007 report at http://www.census.gov/prod/2007pubs/p60-233.pdf ). Official citation = DeNavas-Walt, Carmen, Bernadette D., Proctor, and Jessica Smith, U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P60-233, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 2007.

"Data on income collected in the ASEC by the U.S. Census Bureau cover money income received (exclusive of certain money receipts such as capital gains) before payments for personal income taxes, social security, union dues, Medicare deductions, etc. Therefore, money income does not reflect the fact that some families receive noncash benefits, such as food stamps, health benefits, subsidized housing, and goods produced and consumed on the farm." (p. 27 of census report)

Real Median Household Income = $48,201

This figure differs from race to race:

Asian Household = $64,238
White Household = $52,423
Hispanic Origin Household = $37,781
Black Household = $31,969

It also differs by age group, for example:

25-34 year-olds = $49,164
45-54 year-olds = $64,874

And by region:

Northeast = $52,057
Midwest = $47,836
South = $43,884
West = $52,249

And by sex:

Men with earnings = $42,261
Women with earnings = $32,515

Official Poverty Rate = 12.3%

"Poverty," as defined by the U.S. government, takes into account the number of related children, under 18 years old, living with the family. For example, in 2007, a single, adult wage earner with no children under 18 would be considered poor if he made under $10,488 last year. If he had three children under 18, he'd need to make under $20,516. Income is calculated before taxes and does not include capital gains or noncash benefits such as Medicaid or food stamps or public housing. (p. 43)

People without health insurance = 15.8%, or 47 million (From U.S. Census)

Ages 18-24 = 29.3%
Ages 25-34 = 26.9%
Ages 35-44 = 18.8%
Ages 45-64 = 14.2%

Inflation, as measured by the "Consumer Price Index"

On Money and Vocations and Happiness

  • "For the most satisfied workers, intrinsic rewards are key...."

  • "They're doing work they're very proud of, helping people."

  • "Satisfaction generally rises with social status."

The Most Satisfying Jobs

"The most satisfying jobs are...especially those involved with caring for, teaching and protecting others and creative pursuits...." Clergy, for example, were by far the most satisfied and the most generally happy, although they typically work long hours and receive modest pay. Other jobs ranking high in job satisfaction were physical therapists, firefighters, teachers, painters and sculptors, psychologists and authors.

The Least Satisfying Jobs

Low-skill manual and service jobs, including roofers, waiters and laborers (not construction). Only 1 in five of these were "very satisfied." Only 26 percent of bartenders were very satisfied.

Legacy Reflections on Job Happiness

  • From this study I conclude that, as a general rule, people are happier working jobs where they can say at the end of each day, "I helped someone to have a better life."
  • But don't take a job solely because of its altruistic vision statement. Any job can be made miserable by a lousy manager or slave-driving CEO. But if all else is equal between two jobs, go for the job that matters.
  • Get a skill. If everybody can do your job, then you're expendable and probably low paid.
  • Don't conclude from this study that some jobs are great for everyone and other jobs are miserable for everyone. Look again and you'll find that although four in five roofers and waiters were not "very satisfied," one in five were "very satisfied." This observation would jive with Gallup's survey of people in the workplace, which found that people's strengths and interests differ greatly. Thus, different jobs will be fulfilling to different people.

Source: Money Really Can't Buy Happiness, Study Finds, Chicago Tribune, 4/17/2007, by Barbara Rose. Results from the General Social Survey, supported by the National Science Foundation. Released by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. The survey has been collecting data on over 27,500 randomly selected people since 1988.

How Many Enjoy Their Jobs?

  • "...most employed adults in this country enjoy their jobs."

  • 32% "love" their jobs.

  • "Only 9% dislike or hate their jobs."

  • "Those working for the government, for a non-profit organization, or those who are self-employed are much more likely than those working in private industries to say they love their jobs."

  • "A college education and high household income also correspond with a passion for one's work."

Source: Gallup's annual Work and Education Poll, Most Workers Are Positive, But One-Third Love Their Jobs, by Lydia Saad, August 25, 2005, from www.galluppoll.com )

Would You Still Work If You Had $10,000,000?

  • "55% of working Americans told Gallup that, even if they won $10 million, they would still continue working."
  • "44% would take the money and run."

Source: "$10 Million Question: To Work or Not to Work?," by Linda Lyons, Sept. 14, 2004, www.galluppoll.com

On Satisfaction and Money

  • "...those with greater household incomes are more likely to report higher levels of personal satisfaction and happiness than those with less income."
  • "Being married is also strongly related to life satisfaction and happiness, and may be a more important predictor of these states of mind than income."
  • Only 15% report being dissatisfied with life.


    Very Satisfied

    Very Happy

    Income less than $30,000 69% 36% 36%
    Income $30,000 to $74,999 84% 52% 44%
    Income $75,000 or more 94% 72% 63%

Legacy Reflections on This Study of Happiness and Money:

Other studies have found higher incomes (once above poverty) to contribute little to personal happiness. I wonder what the difference here is? It's certainly worth more study. A few things to consider.

  • There seems to be a connection between loving your work and making more money at your work (see Dr. Thomas Stanley's studies in his books, The Millionaire Next Door and The Millionaire Mind. The millionaires Stanley surveyed all loved their work.) If this is true, then wealthier people may be happier simply because they spend 40+ hours per week doing things they love, whereas a higher percentage of people who don't like their work would be found in the lower income groups. Thus, the higher income people may be happier, not because they have more money, but because they enjoy their work and have found success in it.
  • The lower income levels would probably contain more alcoholics, drug addicts and those in ill health. (I'd need documentation on this, but those I've seen in these conditions are not making high incomes.) I'd further assume that these subsets are typically not as satisfied with life as the rest of the population. Thus, their presence in the lower income categories would skew the satisfaction rate downward for those entire categories. To be more accurate, you'd need to compare apples to apples: e.g., non-alcoholic, drug-free, healthy low income earners with non-alcoholic, drug-free, healthy high income earners.

Source: Gallup's annual Lifestyle poll of 1,010 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Dec. 11-14, 2006). More than Half of Americans "Very Satisfied" with Personal Life, by Jeffrey M. Jones, January 3, 2007, www.galluppole.com

How We Spend Our Money

In a 1995 study by the Office of National Statistics (England), "more than half of the average child's weekly allowance goes on sweets, snacks, games and videos." [Philip Thornton, A Pocket Money Survey to Make Jamie Despair, The Independent (London, England), June 9, 2005]

"The average United Kingdom household spends more each week on alcohol to drink at home than it does on fruit and vegetables." (BBC News, Feb. 20, 2004, taken from the ONS [Office of National Statistics], Expenditure and Food Survey, done yearly for the past 50 years. Surveyed 7,000 households.

"An average Briton will spend 1,537,380 (3,089,360 USD) during his or her lifetime, a survey from insurer Prudential suggests." (BBC News, April 26, 2005, People spend 1.5m' during lives (from survey of 2000 adults by Prudential, together with the Office for National Statistics Household Spending Survey.) Broken down:

Essentials, food, shelter and clothing 552,772
Taxes including income and council tax 286,311
Leisure and luxuries 236,312
Essential travel such as running a car 137,126
Utility bills 101,760
Legal fees, insurance and other financial costs 91,395
Investments 91,124
Education and children 40,650

On Riches

According to a 2006 survey by the Gallup organization, most Americans do not have a strong desire to be rich. Yet, more than half cite making more money as a personal goal. Most think anyone can get rich. Men desire riches more than women. (From www.galluppoll.com , Most Americans Do Not Have a Strong Desire to Be Rich, by Jeffrey M. Jones, Dec. 11, 2006.)

  • "...31% of Americans expect to get rich at some time in their lives."
  • 2% say they're already rich.
  • By "rich," they mean either an income of about $120,000 or assets of $1 million (median estimate.)
  • "Over half of Americans under 30 expect to be rich some day, but by the time Americans reach the age of 65, only 8% have that dream."

(Source: Half of Young People Expect to Strike It Rich: But Expectations Fall Rapidly With Age, by David W. Moore, March 11, 2003)

On Gambling

"Two-thirds of Americans, and roughly three-fourths of Britons and Canadians say in recent Gallup surveys that they have gambled in the last 12 months, with many likely seeing lotteries as their ticket to fortune and fame." ( www.galluppoll.com , Odds Are, Britons and Canadians Gamble, by Julie Ray, 1/22/05)

A new Gallup Poll Social Audit on gambling shows that 57% of Americans have bought a lottery ticket in the last 12 months...." (Lotteries Most Popular Form of Gambling for Americans, by Mark Gillespie, June 17, 1999)

How Many Are Invested in Stocks?

"...according to a Gallup poll conducted October 21-24, (1999) 60% of American households are now invested in the stock market." (Seventy Years After Stock Market Crash, Six of Ten American Households Invested in Stock Market, by David W. Moore, October 29, 1999)

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