What’s the Going Rate for Allowances These Days?

New York, N.Y. – January 15, 2014 – For many of us it was our first source of income, and the first time we experienced the agonizing choice between small bursts of instant gratification versus the long game for saving for something special. Half of Americans (50%) say they received an allowance when they were growing up, and among those with children ages four to 17, six in 10 (60%) say their children receive one. But what’s the going rate on an allowance these days? And who’s the most generous when it comes to deciding what’s an appropriate weekly payout?

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,311 adults surveyed online between December 11 and 17, 2013.

Early childhood income gaps

When asked what they feel is an appropriate weekly allowance for children in three different age groups (4-9, 10-13 and 14-17), it is perhaps not surprising that appropriate allowance levels grow as children age (from $4.10 to $8.70 to $16.00, respectively), though it may surprise some to see that it in fact roughly doubles with each progression from one age category to the next. Moreover, there are some distinct shifts between how different groups of Americans perceive what constitutes an appropriate allowance:

  • For all three age categories, Echo Boomers (Americans ages 18-36) and Gen Xers (ages 37-48) are more generous in their assessments than their elders; Baby Boomers (ages 49-67), in turn, report higher appropriate allowance levels than Matures (ages 68+):
    • For 4-9 year olds – $5.10 Echo Boomers, $5.40 Gen Xers, $3.10 Baby Boomers, $2.00 Matures.
    • For 10-13 year olds – $10.60, $10.10, $7.30 and $5.40, respectively.
    • For 14-17 year olds – $18.00, $18.80, $14.00 and $11.60, respectively.
  • Men consistently are looser with the purse strings than women:
    • For 4-9 year olds – $4.70 men, $3.50 women.
    • For 10-13 year olds – $9.90 men, $7.60 women.
    • For 14-17 year olds – $17.90 men, $14.20 women.
  • Those with children in their households appear more generous than those without for kids ages 4-13:
    • For 4-9 year olds – $5.20 with, $3.60 without.
    • For 10-13 year olds – $9.80 with, $8.20 without.
  • Republicans may not live up to the Party of ‘No!’ title their political rivals have been pushing, but they do have lower appropriate allowance thresholds than Democrats for 10-17 year olds:
    • For 10-13 year olds – $7.60 Republicans, $9.50 Democrats, $8.70 Independents.
    • For 14-17 year olds – $14.10 Republicans, $17.50 Democrats, $16.00 Independents.
  • Some corporations take the local cost of living into account when deciding on their employees’ compensation and it would appear that allowances can be subject to this line of thinking as well. Urban Americans project a higher appropriate allowance than their Rural counterparts and a higher rate than either Suburbanites or Rurals for 10-17 year olds, in keeping with those regions’ respective costs of living:
    • For 4-9 year olds – $4.30 Urban, $4.30 Suburban, $3.30 Rural.
    • For 10-13 year olds – $10.00 Urban, $8.60 Suburban, $7.40 Rural.
    • For 14-17 year olds – $18.30 Urban, $15.70 Suburban, $14.00 Rural.
  • Interestingly, Americans’ household income, of all things, shows little relationship with what they believe allowance levels should be.

Earn it!

Though Americans overall appear to see allowances as appropriate across age ranges, that’s not to say they think kids should be given money for nothing. While nine in ten (90%) believe an allowance is an important way for a child to learn about money, the same percentage (90%) feel that if a teenager wants to make money, he or she should get a job, and nearly as many (86%) say that children should only get an allowance when they work for it (doing household chores, for example).

Additionally, nearly three-fourths each believe that bad behavior should be taken out of a child’s allowance in some way (74%) and that children shouldn’t expect to get paid just for helping around the house (73%).

  • This last sentiment, that helping out around the house is not, in and of itself, worthy of compensation, is especially strong among Baby Boomers and Matures (68% Echo Boomers, 69% Gen Xers, 77% Baby Boomers, 81% Matures).

 

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TABLE 1

ALLOWANCE YOU THINK IS APPROPRIATE FOR EACH AGE GROUP (MEAN)

What do you feel is an appropriate weekly allowance for a child in each of the following age groups? If you don’t think it’s appropriate for a child this age to receive an allowance, please type ‘0.’

Base: U.S. adults

Ages 4-9

Ages 10-13

Ages 14-17

All Adults

$4.10

$8.70

$16.00

Generation

Echo Boomers (18-36)

$5.10

$10.60

$18.00

Gen Xers (37-48)

$5.40

$10.10

$18.80

Baby Boomers (49-67)

$3.10

$7.30

$14.00

Matures (68+)

$2.00

$5.40

$11.60

Gender

Men

$4.70

$9.90

$17.90

Women

$3.50

$7.60

$14.20

Income

$34,999 or less

$4.10

$8.80

$15.90

$35,000 – $49,999

$3.70

$9.20

$17.70

$50,000 – $74,999

$4.30

$8.30

$14.30

$75,000-$99,999

$4.30

$9.00

$17.30

$100,000+

$4.40

$9.00

$16.70

Education

 

High school or less

$3.70

$7.80

$14.50

Some college

$4.50

$9.50

$17.20

College graduate

$4.00

$9.20

$17.60

Post graduate

$4.50

$9.00

$15.30

Children in Household

Yes

$5.20

$9.80

$16.80

No

$3.60

$8.20

$15.60

Political Party

Republicans

$3.60

$7.60

$14.10

Democrats

$4.50

$9.50

$17.50

Independents

$3.90

$8.70

$16.00

Metro Status

Urban

$4.30

$10.00

$18.30

Suburban

$4.30

$8.60

$15.70

Rural

$3.30

$7.40

$14.00


TABLE 2a

AGREE/DISAGREE WITH ALLOWANCE STATEMENTS (SUMMARY GRID)

How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

Base: U.S. adults

AGREE (NET)

Strongly agree

Somewhat agree

DISAGREE (NET)

Somewhat disagree

Strongly disagree

If a teenager wants to make money, he/she should get a job.

%

90

45

45

10

8

1

An allowance is an important way for a child to learn about money.

%

90

46

44

10

6

3

Children should only get an allowance when they work for it (e.g., chores around the house).

%

86

50

36

14

10

4

Bad behavior should be taken out of a child’s allowance in some way.

%

74

32

42

26

15

10

Children shouldn’t expect to get paid just for helping out around the house.

%

73

36

37

27

20

7

My 4-17 year old child(ren) receive an allowance.

%

60

30

31

40

13

27

I received an allowance growing up.

%

50

26

24

50

13

36

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding

Asked only among those with children ages 4-17

 

TABLE 2b

AGREE WITH ALLOWANCE STATEMENTS (BY GENERATION)

How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

Percent saying Strongly/Somewhat Agree

Base: U.S. adults

Total

Generation

Echo Boomers (18-36)

Gen Xers (37-48)

Baby Boomers (49-67)

Matures (68+)

%

%

%

%

%

If a teenager wants to make money, he/she should get a job.

90

88

88

93

92

An allowance is an important way for a child to learn about money.

90

88

90

91

94

Children should only get an allowance when they work for it (e.g., chores around the house).

86

84

86

88

83

Bad behavior should be taken out of a child’s allowance in some way.

74

75

76

73

76

Children shouldn’t expect to get paid just for helping out around the house.

73

68

69

77

81

My 4-17 year old child(ren) receive an allowance.

60

63

62

53

26

I received an allowance growing up.

50

53

57

49

38

Asked only among those with children ages 4-17

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between December 11 and 17, 2013 among 2,311 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Where appropriate, these data were also weighted to reflect the composition of the adult online population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J43569

Q955, 960, 965, 970

The Harris Poll® #4, January 15, 2014

By Larry Shannon-Missal, Harris Poll Research Manager