Woman sculpting a bust

Whose parents had more money, the doctor or the artist?

Elizabeth Bromstein|

If you had to guess, who would you think had richer parents, the artist or the doctor?

My immediate response to this question was “The artist!” but then I thought about it and realized a case could be made for both.

The artist probably had richer parents because he had the time and room to be creative and knew he had someone to fall back on if he wasn’t making any money. The artist can live off mom and dad and spend his time creating, even if it doesn’t pay.

The doctor, on the other hand, probably had richer parents because they provided her with opportunities to grow and study and had the money to put her through university and support her during those years. Right?

So, what’s the real answer? NPR actually did some research and came up with it. The truth is that…drumroll please…artists had richer parents.

The station found a government survey tracking more than 12,000 people over decades, which allowed them to look at a group of people in 1979 and 2010, from adolescence to middle age. The resulting table “links peoples’ jobs as adults in 2010 to their parents’ income when they were kids in 1979.” Cool, huh?

At the bottom of the family income list are people in farming, fishing and forestry. Their parents made less than $35,000 a year. In the middle are nurses, doctors, salespeople, and HR, whose families made between $55,000-$59,999. Artists are a little higher, with parents who made $65,000-$69,999. And at the top are lawyers and judges, whose families earned between $85,000-$89,000.

So, I was right the first time.

Here are those highlights from NPR’s detailed list. See the full list here.

    - Job As Adult
    Farming, Fishing, And Forestry
    Household Income During Childhood
    less than $35,000

    - Job As Adult
    Sales
    Nurses
    Counselors, Social, And Religious Workers
    Clerks
    Secretaries And Administrative Assistants
    Doctors, Dentists, And Surgeons
    Human Resources, Management Analysts, etc.
    Household Income During Childhood
    $55,000-59,999

    - Job As Adult
    Designers, Musicians, Artists, etc
    Chief Executives
    General Managers
    Engineers, Architects, And Surveyors
    Household Income During Childhood
    $65,000-69,999

    - Job As Adult
    Lawyers and Judges
    Household Income During Childhood
    $85,000-89,999


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