Why America's Falling Birth Rate Is Sensational News for the Pet Industry

Pets and babies: Competitive goods.
More

Conservative writer Jonathan Last, author of What to Expect When Nobody's Expecting, likes to argue that pets are gradually replacing children in the hearts of American couples -- giving them an outlet for all their nurturing instincts at a fraction of the cost and hassle. As someone who grew up with two dogs (though, admittedly, no siblings), I'm a bit skeptical about the theory. But I couldn't help but think of it when looking at this graph from the Bureau of Labor Statistics illustrating how much households spend on animal companions.

Long and the short of it: Childless couples and empty-nesters really do sink the most into caring for pets. A husband and wife with no kids spends 69 percent more, on average, on their dogs, cats, and whatnot than parents of children under six. Second place goes to the parents of adult children.  

Who_Spends_on_Pets_Weissmann.JPG

Of course, pet spending also just seems to track pretty closely with disposable income. Two-paycheck households with no children have a lot more extra cash to throw around on premium dog chow and fancy kennels than most singles or young parents, after all. So for those out there who aren't particularly comfortable with Last's brand of cultural criticism, here's another way to think of what this data shows: The more married Americans that shy away from parenthood in the future, the better it'll be for the Purinas of the world.

Investors, take note. 


Jump to comments
Presented by

Jordan Weissmann is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

'Stop Telling Women to Smile'

An artist's campaign to end sexual harassment on the streets of NYC.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In