Family Income at the Bottom and at the Top: Income Sources and Family Characteristics

Sociology 101
Family income at the bottom and at the top: Income sources and family characteristics
Lawrence E. Raffalovicha, Shannon M. Monnatb and Hui-shien Tsao

This journal article examined the differences between families that made top-level income and families that made bottom-level income. Some of the characteristics examined were income sources, race, gender, traditional vs. non-traditional, and a certain “property elite” who are “high-income families who receive about half of their income from wealth” (308).

It was found that families at the high-end of life are overwhelmingly white, married, and both spouses earn income. Half of the people in this category were in their 40s to 50s. Most had a college-level education and most were employed. Typical jobs for these families in the top 10% are Executive and Management positions. Furthermore, typical jobs for the top 1% are also in Medicine, Law, and Teaching, which surprised me (308).

Families in the lower end of the income scale were found to be disproportionately non-white, female, and non-married. This consisted of both young and old adults, with high-school education being their highest educational achievement, if reached at all. They were also found to be employed in low-level service occupations. Many were disabled and retired (308).

As I finished reading through this journal article, I was a little disappointed that the end didn’t come to a better conclusion with the evidence obtained. I thought that at the end, the author just gave you a bunch of numbers, and then talks about the “property elite” for a little longer. However, I did learn some interesting facts about the high and low classes of America from this reading. It also probably would have been helpful to touch on the characteristics of the middle-class America, but the purpose of the article seemed to be just to show the extremes of both sides.

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