The Average American Family of Four


Posted by Bob Lord

The median income of an American family of four is around $50,000. That means half of all American families are living on $50,000 or less. In other words, they're hanging on by their fingernails.

Want to know what the average income is for a family of four in America? From Sam Pizzigati's review of Gar Alperovitz's new book, What Then Must We Do? Straight Talk About The American Revolution:

America, Alperovitz reminds us, has become the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. The nation’s annual income, if divided equally, would be enough to bring each family of four $200,000.

An equal division of all income would be communist, but it's a breathtaking statistic nonetheless. Think of it this way: We're moving rapidly toward extreme inequality. We have one family, the Waltons, with wealth greater than 100 million Americans. Each family of four having a $200,000 annual income is the other extreme. It's extreme equality. It's actually not possible to achieve, because if we ever got there, the increase in demand would the drive the economy to the point where the income of each family of four was $250,000. Wouldn't that be terrible?

Neither extreme is desirable. But if you had to choose which extreme the richest country in the world should be closer to, which would be your pick? Mine would be extreme equality.  


  1. Bob,

    I think you are exactly right in identifying income and wealth inequalities as the fundamental problem facing the good old U.S.A.

    I’d like to see a full frontal attack on these inequalities. Everything from strengthening labor unions to increasing taxes on the wealthy. Republicans like to condemn efforts along these lines as “redistribution” but in fact their policies redistribute from bottom to top rather than the other way around.

    Bill Astle