By now, most people have heard of the term “DINKs,” or “double income no kids.” The term started to be more commonly used about a decade ago. When it comes to the “income” part, couples with no kids don’t have all the expenses that come with raising kids, so they should have more disposable cash, right? Take a closer look…

In interviewing over 100 couples for Families of Two and having now talked to thousands more childfree men and women, I have found that the childfree come from all socioeconomic walks of life and income levels, and many would not describe themselves as having a lot of disposable income.

The U.S. Census  has data that relates to this. A “Fertility of American women 2008” report released in 2010 indicates that of women ages 40-44 with an annual family income of $20,000-$29,999, 21% are childless. For the same age range, with annual family income of $30,000-$49,999, 21% are childless. And the percentage of women ages 40-44 with an annual family income of $100,000 or more who are childless is just shy of 14% percent.

Like other “childless” data put out by the Census, we can’t be sure from these data if “childless” necessarily means “childfree.” However, they suggest that when you don’t have children it does not automatically mean you have more income, thus more discretionary income.

What have I seen on the ground? The socioeconomic status of DINKs seems to fall into a kind of normal distribution—a small percentage of them are on one end of the continuum and fit the myth of the affluent DINK. At the other end, there is a small percentage that fall on the lower socioeconomic end.  The rest—they’re somewhere in between on the normal distribution continuum—in that big category called the middle class, from upper middle to lower.

From perusing some childfree sites, one might be left with the perception that DINKs are mostly the ones on the higher end–those who can afford the boats and the exotic travel.  It’s just not the case. Even “dual income” is not always accurate; sometimes the couple has the lifestyle where one partner does not work outside the home.

So when you see the term DINK, don’t assume it means “well-off.”

And when it comes to parents and not who have disposable income, I say the differences rest in consumer behavior. When they can afford it, people with kids and without just buy different stuff!

What have you seen out there regarding socioeconomic status of the childfree?

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