Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Median Income: Family vs. Household

Did you know: “Typical” income for a household or family varies based on the type of family you’re interested in describing.

Typical income can be measured in a variety of ways. Analysts often use median household income to indicate what is typical. In 2012, data showed median household income was $51,371 in the US. For families, median income in the US in 2012 was $62,527 [1].

This may have you wondering, “What’s the difference?” The Census Bureau provides these two data points and has a concise explanation on the FAQ page for one of their surveys [2]: “A family consists of two or more people (one of whom is the householder) related by birth, marriage, or adoption residing in the same housing unit. A household consists of all people who occupy a housing unit regardless of relationship. A household may consist of a person living alone or multiple unrelated individuals or families living together.”

A couple more interesting breakdowns:

Impact of Age:
While the median household income is $51,371 in the US, this varies by age. Households with heads under 25 years old have a median income of $24,476 compared to $55,821 for those with heads aged 25 to 44 years old. Households headed by those aged 45 to 64 have the highest median incomes of $62,049, but those 65 and over have a median income of $36,743.

Impact of HH Size/Family Size:
For both households and families, there is a notable difference in typical income by size. While it is reasonable, to expect some causal relationship between age and income, the trend by size is likely a reflection of other causal patterns that happen to coincide with size.

For households, the impact is most seen between 1 and 2-person households. Median income for a one-person household is $27,237 while typical income for a two-person household is $58,121. Median income rises as household size increases, peaking at 4-person households with a median income of $75,343. For 5 or more person households, median income ranges from $64,747 to $69.691. In families, we see a similar pattern except that, by definition, there are no 1-person families. Median income for a two-person family is $56,646 and rises, peaking at $76,049 for 4-person families. From that point, median income declines to between $64,478 and $70,403 for larger families.

For more even more on this topic, visit our interactive infographic

[1] American Community Survey 2012 (1-year estimate). All subsequent data in this article is from the same source.
[2] https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/about/faqs.html

Notice: The information on this page may not be current. The archive is a collection of content previously published on one or more NAR web properties. Archive pages are not updated and may no longer be accurate. Users must independently verify the accuracy and currency of the information found here. The National Association of REALTORS® disclaims all liability for any loss or injury resulting from the use of the information or data found on this page.

Advertisement

Comment Policy

The opinions expressed in reader comments sections on this website are those of the reader and not NAR or REALTOR® Magazine.

About Economists' Outlook

Visit this blog daily to see what NAR experts are saying about the economy, the housing market, and other factors that will impact your business.

Housing Minute

Housing Minute is a monthly video series highlighting the latest housing data from the National Association of REALTORS® in a minute or less.