7400.602 Family in Lifespan Perspective
Topic 12 - Work and Home

The Genesis of Social Classes
All complex societies have some system of stratification which unequally ranks people which is generally known as social class.
Social Classes grow out of a Division of Labor within a society: - somebody has to take out the trash - somebody has to repair our television sets - somebody has to approve loans at the bank. So there is a strong correlation between the type of work a person does and the amount of prestige that person enjoys and the amount of wealth a person accumulates.

The Determinants of Social Class are: Occupation - Education - Income
A few people inherit large sums of money from their families. These folks are few in number, although it is true that the top 1/5th of the population controls over 50% of the nation's wealth - a lot of social power. 
Occupations - some occupations (careers) carry more prestige than others. Usually higher prestige means higher salaries - but not always: Similarly - Higher paid occupations generally require more education, though not necessarily in every case. While becoming a physician requires eight additional years of education after high school, becoming an entertainer or union president requires much less. The kind of education we receive also says something about our social class - anybody who could spend four years in college (whether or not they get their way paid) is obviously in a preferred position of higher status.

Social Class Consciousness - we are very aware of our standing in the community in terms of social class. While all citizens of the United States are equal in the democratic sense, some are more equal than others. Our Occupation, Education and Income imply a lifestyle, something about family background, special responsibilities-  , and certain privileges that are enjoyed. We use our social status to get us things - we wear status symbols as a means of recognizing membership in our class. Since we all look alike basically under our clothes - we use cars, opulent surroundings, special and expensive clothing, etc. - to dress according to our class. After all - the rich can smell different from the rest of us if they want to - they spend more time on THEMSELVES - pedicures, pretty feet, skin treatments, time on the golf course, spend less time doing the dirty work of life.

Upper - Middle - Working - Lower Class
The typical middle class child lives in a class subculture where he or she is surrounded by educated, cultivated persons who speak the language relatively correctly, enjoy books, music, travel and gentile parties. At school, the typical middle class child is greeted by a teacher whose dress, speech, and norms of conduct are more or less like his or her own. The environment at school is much like the environment at home: full of books, crayons, drawing paper, various developmentally appropriate toys, maybe a computer.  The typical lower class child lives in a class subculture that is as different from their richer counterparts as if they were from different planets - he or she is surrounded by uneducated persons, who speak a language that is special to the social class, who barely read, and are unable to enjoy music (unless it is on the radio) and only travel to the funerals of their kin. At school, the typical lower class child is greeted by a middle class teacher who may see an unwashed, unfed, unruly child who violates many of the educational system's rules. School is foreign and different from this child's home life. - The behavior required for praise is unknown to the child - behaving in ways that are consistent with the lower class invokes punishment from the teacher - no support for education at home or in the lower class subculture
The Relative Size of the Social Classes:
    The significance of social class is this:
    • -life opportunities are determined by it
    • -upper class members live longer and are healthier
    • -those with less than 5 years of education are twice as likely to die early.
    • -and experience more days of illness
    • - and are more likely to have premature babies and babies with congenital birth defects.
Official Poverty Statistics: http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/04poverty.shtml

2004 HHS Poverty Guidelines

Size of
Family Unit
48 Contiguous
States and D.C.
Alaska Hawaii
1 $ 9,310 $11,630 $10,700
2 12,490 15,610 14,360
3 15,670 19,590 18,020
4 18,850 23,570 21,680
5 22,030 27,550 25,340
6 25,210 31,530 29,000
7 28,390 35,510 32,660
8 31,570 39,490 36,320
For each additional
person, add
 3,180  3,980  3,660

SOURCEFederal Register, Vol. 69, No. 30, February 13, 2004, pp. 7336-7338.

One way to think about social class is to consider what their income purchases.
  • Top 1% - The Success Elite - Upper-upper class     $2,000,000 per year.  - Inherited wealth - "old money", Private college education. Vacation homes, access to private resources.
  • Next 1% - Doing Very Well - Average   $500,000 per year  Professional class educated at 1st - 2nd tier colleges and universities. Twelve-fifteen room single family dwellings in gated communities. Semi-elite clubs. Children go to private schools throughout their educational careers.
  • 19% - Middle American Dream - Average $$200,000 per year - also known as Upper-middle class and the professional/managerial class - they have more than is necessary to live. Six to 10 room houses, three week vacations at public venues. Public recreation. college at good state universities for children if kids work part time.
  • 31% - Average American Family - Average income $75,000 - the middle class of small business owners, accountants, teachers, dually employed couples working in sales or clerical management. High school and some college. A comfortable life, can pay the bills on time and put some money aside for retirement. Three bedroom homes in suburbs. Children will go to college on student loans and scholarships.
  • --------------------- Families living below this line are likely to have intermittent or no health care insurance ------------------------------------------
  • 35% - Just Getting By - Average $50,000 per year - the working class of craftsmen, lower paid sales and clerical workers, factory workers, clerks.  High School diploma, vocational school experience. Both husband and wife have worked since high school . Health insurance if their job is covered by a collective bargaining or union contract.
  • 8% - Having a Hard Time -Average $25,000 - the semi-poor -  quit school to work in unskilled labor and service jobs.  One step away from real poverty, proud of their ability to be responsible and work. Likely to work while sick, more prone to serious health problems, see the doctor only in emergencies.  Rent an apartment in an old building with an absentee landlord. 9th grade education.
  • 5% - the Poor - Average $18,000 per year - living on public assistance where available. Likely to work at short-term, seasonal jobs,  Roughly 19% of all children under 18 years of age live with parents in this income bracket.

During the emergence of the industrial economy, paid labor became a primary source of income and the essence of the meaning of work.  What women did in the home was no longer defined as work. Since the rise of industrialization, there has been a tendency for “his” work to be paid labor outside the home and “her” work to be that of the homemaker. This is not to say that all homemakers loathe what they do, but a great number of women have not found the role to be adequate to their needs.

Patterns of work have changed.
At the turn of the century, only about one in five adult women were in the labor force. Today, more than half of women aged sixteen and above are now in the labor force. While the participation of women has been steadily going up, that of men has been steadily going down.   Some women are in jobs and some are pursuing careers.  Women have opted for worker - as well as homemaker - roles. Some women who work have jobs; others are in careers. The distinction between job and career leads to the important distinction between dual- earner family and dual-career family. The dual-earner family is one in which both spouses are involved in paid work, and one or both view the work only as a job. In the dual-career family, both spouses are engaged in careers, which means that both are committed to employment that has a long-term pattern of mobility. With a declining proportion of men in the labor force, a growing emphasis on egalitarian marriages, an increasing number of women who work outside the home and contribute to the support of the family, and a decline in the proportion of Americans who believe that women rather than men should take care of the home. In spite of the progress toward equality, wives who work outside the home are still likely to spend substantially more hours than their husbands on housework.

The Pay has dramatically changed
Since the middle 1970s, while the number of dollars represented by the family paycheck has increased,  the actual buying power of the family pay check has declined. The reason for the decline has, in large part, been the result of the forced decline of labor unions.  While the number of people employed by labor unions never reached higher than about 35% of all employed person in the U.S. in the 1950s, the unions had a buoyant effect on wages in general because such workers could afford to purchase "luxury" items and had disposable income to spread around the economy.  Beginning in the late 1970s, conservative forces in the economy and government assaulted the labor movement in order to reduce the cost of labor to the industrial economy.  This long term action widened the gap between the rich and the middle class, between the middle class and the working class, and between the working class and the poor. (the difference between that $2,000,000 average income  for the very rich and the $75,000 average income.

Coupled with the deregulation of the credit industry, allowing families spend more money than they make and  to feel richer than they actually are, has served to pack the middle class while making everyone but the two top income brackets less affluent.  
How Credit Card Interest Works - http://www3.uakron.edu/witt/flm/credit.htm

II. Budgets and the Use of Credit
Families can combat these forces and maintain both a higher standard of living and reduce the chances that they will end up in poverty one day.
It all begins with living within one's means - actually living somewhat below one's means.
   A family of three or four should not feel safe unless in has at least six months income in savings, plus insurance for all members, and a plan for retirement (when income becomes fixed). With savings in mind, think about a realistic budget:

Example Monthly Budget - Family of Three   
Income        $4,150
Housing         $800
Prop. Tax       $250
Home Repairs     $50
Groceries       $400
Health Ins.     $600
Life Ins.        $50
Car Ins.        $200
Water            $20
Electricity     $150
Nat. Gas        $100
Car Payment     $500
Gasoline         $40
Vehicle Regis.   $10
Car Maintenance  $40
Telephone        $26
Internet         $30
Cell Phone       $85
Clothing         $75
Retirement      $250
Other Savings   $200
Credit Card Debt$200
Pediatrician     $50
Expenses      $4,126

Notice what this list doesn't include:
  • -no payment of student loans
  • -no payment of any bank loans
  • -no car payments
  • -no credit card payments of any kind
  • -no emergency funds for sickness, pregnancy
  • -no coverage for other loss of income
  • -no TAXES which hovers around 11% Federal, 4% state and 3% local in Ohio 18% total.
  • -no movies, video rentals, stereo equipment, commercial recordings, alcohol
  • -no entertainment of any kind
  • -no vacations, presents
  • -no Christmas, no birthdays
  • -no birth control devices
  • -no personal grooming
  • -no diapers, baby oils, pediatrician money

III. Marriage and Social Class
The Marriage Gradient - for men, income level is positively related to the probability of getting married. Men tend to marry down in social class. The proportion of married men increases and income level increases. The Marriage Gradient suggests that men marry women who are slightly lower down the social class continuum (younger, a little poorer, less educated). The pool of eligible mates decreases for women as they get older, richer, and more educated. The pool of eligible mate for men increases as they get older, richer, and more educated.

Birth rate and Social Class - there are 94 births per 1000 women in the lower classes compared to 48 births per 1000 women in the middle classes.

  • lower income marriages have a greater rate of divorce than do higher income marriages
  • high income means a greater accumulation of riches so a divorce is a risk of losing these riches.
  • higher income marriages connote lives with more comfort - less to fight about - be dissatisfied about
Regardless of actual income - living within one's means increases satisfaction in marriage. It is indebtedness that causes marital instability - and the insistence of having more material goods.

Working Women in the United States
Married women who work outside the home face the prospect of less leisure time for themselves and less leisure time than their husbands have. One motivation for married women to work outside the home is clearly economic. Like men, however, women work for a variety of reasons other than economic, including the power that is gained.
    A. Reasons for the increase in the number of working women who are married, with children at home:
      1. double digit inflation - since 1964, the inflation rate has served to decrease the actual value of income by 75%. That means a dollar today buys what a quarter would in 1964. As long as wages and salaries increase with the shrinking buying power of the dollar, things are fine.
      2. The Women's movement, working off of the momentum of the other civil rights movements of the 1960's have illuminated the differential treatment of men and women.
      3. Geographic mobility of the average family in the U.S. has led to isolation of the nuclear family.
      4. No-Fault Divorce - disallows financial support for divorced women in theory.
      5. Fluctuating employment rates - unemployed husbands

 There are more dual-earner families in America than single-earner families.
We do not know how many of the dual-earner families are dual-career, but the number is undoubtedly substantial and growing. Equity is a crucial part of a satisfying, intimate relationship. Most dual-career couples are more equal than other kinds of families in terms of sharing the decision-making power and giving the wife the option of pursuing a career as well as bearing and rearing children.

There are different types of dual-career families and differing structural arrangements, perhaps the most radical of which is the commuter marriage.

  • Three different types of dual-career arrangements are the traditional, in which the wife simply adds a new role–that of a career women; the participant, in which the husband assumes some of the responsibilities of child care; and the role-sharing, where both spouses are actively involved in family work.
  • The commuter marriage is a dual-career marriage in which the spouses live in different locations and still maintain their dual commitment to work and to family. Commuter marriages work better if there are no children.

There are a number of challenges of dual-career families

  • One of the common complaints of those in dual-career marriages is the lack of time.
  • An initial issue for dual-career couples is whether to have children, because children make an already complicated life even more so. Clearly, the issue of children presents the dual-career couple with difficult decisions.
  • The wife in a dual-career family is more likely than the husband to bear the brunt of the conflicts among work, spouse, and children.

In spite of what might be regarded as a gloomy picture, there are a number of satisfactions in the dual-career family, including benefits that relate to the need for a sense of control over our lives and benefits to the family generally as well. The potential satisfactions, rewards, and problems of the dual-career family are great.

There are various problems and challenges faced by dual-earner couples, including the effects on marital satisfaction.
Dual-earner couples with children face the same problem as dual-career couples. The way a couple comes to terms with the division of labor in the home is important for their marital satisfaction. Husbands and wives tend to approach the notion of an equitable division of family work somewhat differently.
 In the dual-career family, women have more adjustments to make than do men. They tend to carry a larger share of the load of family work.

  • Stress occurs because of such things as the conflict between the demands of the workplace and the demands of home and the effect of work fatigue on moods at home.
  • Stress arises if people perceive that their families are suffering in some way from their employment. In fact, maternal employment may be beneficial for the children of single mothers and lower-income families.

Symbolic interactionists talk about role-making, the process of working out the nature of particular roles in the course of interaction. As the number of dual- earner families has grown, the issue of role negotiation has become more important. If you are in a dual-earner family, you are at greater risk for separation and divorce, but marital satisfaction among dual-earner couples is common. The dual- career family, which poses somewhat greater challenges than that of dual-earners, can also have a high degree of marital satisfaction.

Effects of two paycheck families on traditional family life:

  • working women have less time for child care - their traditional role which causes both a decline in the birth rate increased father involvement in child care Negotiated role interaction
  • the number and variety of jobs available to women has greatly increased, blurring the sex role distinction.
  • women feel pressure to fit into both traditional family roles and new occupational ones.
  • role overload
  • social stigma and the career wife
  • personal identity and self-esteem problems
  • guilt over lack of involvement in child care
  • social network dilemmas
  • dilemmas of multiple role cycling
Saving for Specific Things: http://www3.uakron.edu/witt/flm/saving.htm
Saving for the Future - Retirement: http://www3.uakron.edu/witt/flm/future.htm
A note about Inflation:
How Inflation Works: http://www3.uakron.edu/witt/flm/inflation.htm
66 Ways to Save Money: http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/money/66ways/index.html

This means if you made $10,000 in 1964 you would have to make $50,00 a year to have the same standard of living. Every single item of goods and services for sale in the country is increasing in cost right along with inflation.  The last of the baby boomers - those born from 1960 to 1964 are the first generation of Americans that will not, as a group, increase their wealth relative to their parents. Inflation, a diamond shaped social class structure, an over administrated economy all share in the cause of this situation. Families have to learn to budget their resources in order to be successful today.

Meaningful work is one of the crucial bases of our well-being. More and more Americans are expecting their employment to be fulfilling to them. The effects on life satisfaction of one or both spouses working outside the home are somewhat different for men and women. On the whole, men and women in dual-earner families do not differ from those in single-earner families in overall life satisfaction. Having the option to work outside the home is important for wives. On the whole, wives who work outside the home are mentally and physically healthier than those who do not. Given an equitable relationship and agreement about work status, the partners in a dual-earner family will still benefit from using certain coping strategies to deal with various problems.