Where Do You Summer? Verbs From Another Planet
I don't understand much about economics--I took the one intro course in 11th grade with Mr. Alexander and that wrapped it up for me--but I love reading those pieces in the business section that let you compare your own miserable finances to the gloom and doom facing the rest of the population.
Sunday's package in the Post by Neil Irwin was your basic oh-my-God-we're-all-going-to-be-eating-cat-food-when-we're-old fright piece, but with bonus stats that frankly floored me. (Excellent graphic is in the dead trees edition only, not on the big web site, but the stats on which it's based are available here.)
So I look over at the state of upper income Americans--defined as households with median income of $104,700, which in the Washington suburbs is pretty darn close to the median income of everybody--and check this out: 19 percent of those folks own a second home. So do 16 percent of the mid-career category of Americans, whose median income is $61,100.
This is nothing short of astonishing to me because I have exactly zero friends who own a summer home. This is hardly worth shedding tears over. I can't imagine most people I know having time to spend at a second home, let alone take on the task of owning and maintaining one. So I need to know: Who are these people, and where do they find the resources to own a summer house, and how do they get the time to go to it?
My parents and many of their friends were teachers, and somehow a fair number of them managed to acquire summer places. But that was a different economic era, a time when the gap between rich and everyone else was not nearly as terrifying, and a time when everything seemed much more affordable.
Now I know plenty of people who have surpassed their parents' earning power, in some cases moving into another social class entirely--at least statistically--yet these people could no sooner afford a summer house than they might a Rolls or a private jet.
But this study in American Demographics argues that second home ownership will increase considerably in the years to come, in part because household size is shrinking even as household income rises.
Still, I don't get it: How does all that square with all the stories we read about how Americans aren't saving, have no pensions, and face retirements as paupers?
Part of the answer is empty-nesters and people who never had kids. Obviously they have lots more disposable income than families with children. But that can't account for such an enormous number of second-homeowners. Surely some of you--including you second-homeowners--can explain this.
By Marc Fisher |
March 8, 2006; 2:15 PM ET
Previous: Campus Dissolve: The Battle over Sugar's | Next: Guess What City Managed to Turn Free Wifi into An Issue of Class?
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: COD | March 8, 2006 3:00 PM
Posted by: meg | March 8, 2006 3:07 PM
Posted by: S.L.B. | March 8, 2006 3:09 PM
Posted by: Maureen | March 8, 2006 3:41 PM
Posted by: bc | March 8, 2006 3:55 PM
Posted by: Mark | March 8, 2006 4:17 PM
Posted by: Mark | March 8, 2006 4:18 PM
Posted by: Fisher | March 8, 2006 4:30 PM
Posted by: Summerer | March 8, 2006 4:50 PM
Posted by: Frankey | March 8, 2006 4:55 PM
Posted by: THS | March 8, 2006 7:27 PM
Posted by: THS | March 8, 2006 7:33 PM
Posted by: Fisher | March 8, 2006 7:56 PM
Posted by: kme | March 8, 2006 8:17 PM
Posted by: bc | March 8, 2006 9:41 PM
Posted by: Barry | March 9, 2006 5:25 PM
Posted by: sd in md | March 9, 2006 6:03 PM
Posted by: mcm | March 10, 2006 4:03 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.