How Americans spend their money in the last 75 years

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Note that the “poverty level” is calculated by simply multiplying estimated food costs time three. So decreasing percentage expenditures on food invalidates simple comparisons of the percentage of people living in poverty across the decades.


Thanks for brightening my day. :slightly_frowning_face:


Personally, I think it’s more interesting to see the increase as a factor of how many times more is spent on each topic.Then it becomes apparent that education is the biggest ‘winner’. Americans spend over 5x as much on education compared to 1941!

Now, the real question is: does this happen because they want to spend more on education, or because they have to?


I need more meaningful metrics as it relates to my life.

What is the metrics on comic and fantascy/sci fi collectables?


I suspect a combination of degree inflation, flight to private primary and secondary school as the public education system crumbles, and skyrocketing tuition, with the textbook racket thrown in for good measure (new books to teach the same core Algebra curriculum for the last two hundred years).

Welcome to the rentier economy, in which actual property ownership is replaced with 30 year mortgages where the bank owns your home but humors you that you do while you pay 100% in interest alone over the lifetime of the loan. These days even most of the 1% don’t really own their home, maybe 0.01% do.


Both education and housing costs are paid using loans, which are backstopped by the US taxpayer.

Take away the taxpayer guarantee and watch costs drop like a Chuck Jones anvil.


Most Americans in the 1950s and 60s were living in houses of 1000-1500 square feet.

Try to find new homes of that size today.


Well most of those houses from the 50s and 60s are still around. I live in an 816 sq ft house from 1950, and since I bought in '99, before the big RE bubble I paid a reasonable price and it is now paid off. AND I have a much shorter commute than if I’d bought a McMansion in the exurbs.


Like I said, “new” homes.

If a couple with two kids “needs” a house that is 2x-3x bigger than the house their grandparents grew up in, that’s a huge driver of costs.


Certainly it is the case that items bought with borrowed money have seen huge price bubbles under the fed’s Zero Interest Rate Policy. And houses for prices above the conforming loan limit (and thus too expensive to be bought by Fannie or Freddie) saw a more moderate boom and bust than cheaper homes. But the worst, most bubblicious loans of the RE bubble were the sort of exploding teaser rate, stated income stuff that F+F wouldn’t purchase. So long as the fed will give money to the banks for free, they’ll keep lending it, even if the chance of getting their money back is low simply because the bonuses are today and the defaults are next quarter.


I think we know the answer to that question.


Around where I live, if one of those houses hits the market, it’s quickly razed and a 3000 sq ft house is built in it’s place.


I wonder what caused the big spike in recreation/entertainment spending in 1973.


I would argue that as a college degree has become more common, it has become a perquisite for many jobs that didn’t used to require it. And it has become more expensive as the ability to borrow ever more money to get it has become available. So people want it more, AND it costs more.


My guess would be gas prices…Vacations would have become noticeably more expensive with fuel prices.


Smoking pot and dropping acid? Oh, and disco music!


In many cases it’s a “want”. My niece is studying nursing. The local community college has an excellent nursing program but she wanted to go to an out-of-state university to be with her friends, which basically tripled her schooling expenses. On the other hand, my friend’s son is taking college level HVAC courses through his high school and will be able to make a solid living shortly after he graduates. Plenty of options for education available.


Have to. The “American Dream” promised that an American with a high school diploma and a good, steady (pssst, no-one mention “union”) manufacturing job could own a home like @simonize’s free and clear by his mid to late 50s. Now, as we see from the increasing housing expenditure and given the toll on the labour market extracted by neoliberal globalism, the only viable path to that dream is spending additional money to get a post-secondary credential (which is the thing really being purchased in the “education” category), even for a job that doesn’t necessarily require one.


Watch the home ownership rates drop like that anvil. The rates have gone up significantly since those gov backed loans - starting with the GI Bill. The rates have dropped since that financial speculation when gov oversight was removed from banking institutions.