May 17, 2005
In general, consumption is lower than disposable income for most households.
But two household types stand out. Single elderly and single mothers have the lowest level of adjusted income and consumption of any households examined. They are also the only two family types that have higher consumption than income.
But those are the only characteristics these two disadvantaged households share. The single elderly had the largest percentage improvements of any of the other family types in the 1981-2001 period. Single mothers began and ended this period with the lowest average levels of both consumption and income.
These data on disposable income and consumption are a product of the Consumer Expenditure Survey. To learn more, see "Economic inequality through the prisms of income and consumption," by David Johnson, Timothy Smeeding, and Barbara Boyle Torrey, Monthly Labor Review, April 2005.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Disposable income and consumption on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2005/may/wk3/art02.htm (visited November 26, 2015).
Fifty years of looking at changes in peoples lives
Longitudinal surveys help us understand long-term changes, such as how events that happened when a person was in high school affect labor market success as an adult.