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What's the Going Rate for Allowances These Days?

Harris Poll "Allowance Index" looks at American perceptions on allowances

NEW YORK, Jan. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- 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?

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These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,311 adults surveyed online between December 11 and 17, 2013 by Harris Interactive. (Full results, including data tables, can be found here)

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).

To view the full findings, or to see other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

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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.

Q955, 960, 965, 970

The Harris Poll® #4, January 15, 2014           
By Larry Shannon-Missal, Harris Poll Research Manager

About Harris Interactive             
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for The Harris Poll®, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research across a wide range of industries. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing a client's research investment. Serving clients worldwide through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help our clients stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:       
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive         
[email protected]

SOURCE Harris Interactive

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