America Has Become a Nation of Dual-Income Working Couples

November 21, 2013

While it is clear from the chart that the husband-as-sole-breadwinner stereotypical family of the 1960s was probably not the norm then, it is most certainly less so now. Mothers worked during the 1960s but fewer than half of all married couples during that era were dual-earners. Today, that number has risen to 66 percent, more than twice the number of sole-earner married couples. This means that a large share of married couple tax returns have two incomes and thus are now clustered in the upper income groups facing the highest marginal tax rates.

For more charts like the one below, see the second edition of our chart book, Putting a Face on America's Tax Returns.

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A tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities.

The marginal tax rate is the amount of additional tax paid for every additional dollar earned as income. The average tax rate is the total tax paid divided by total income earned. A 10 percent marginal tax rate means that 10 cents of every next dollar earned would be taken as tax.