Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Not Many Like Us

There are no more seats in the van. We bought it six years ago, when our third was an infant, and it seemed to have unimaginable amounts of room, as well as really cool seats that fold down flat into the floor. We loved it. We still like it well enough, but now every seat is full: seven seats, two adults, five kids. No room. That in and of itself can be a little frustrating. If we want to bring one of MrsDarwin's siblings or parents on a trip, we need to bring two vehicles. And with the smallest one getting close to two, you have to figure that one of these days... (And as for fighting in the back seat, it is never ending.)

So I found myself starting to look at full size vans the other day. Sure, there is the Suburban which has six seats in the back, and so do some minivans, but if I'm going to have to replace our van, I don't want to be out of room again as soon as we add one more. It's time for a full size. And I have to admit that I'm dreading it a bit. I prefer small cars. Preferably small fast cars, though you wouldn't know it from the cars I actually own at the moment. And a full size van is neither small nor fast.

Nor, I find, are they primarily marketed to consumers. They're primarily marketed to businesses. The answer, it turns out, is easily found in the handy "how many families are like yours" calculator that was being passed around last year.

This informs me that there are 205,172 households in the US consisting of a married couple and five children under 18. 0.18% of US households. Ah, but we still fit in our van. When we outgrow the van (I suppose I should say if, for one never knows, though it seems highly likely to happen eventually) we will enter an even smaller demographic: 58,747 households consisting of a married couple and six children under 18. 0.05% of US households. I'm told that the full size van market in the US over the last decade averages a little over 200,000 new vehicles sold per year, so it's pretty obvious that most customers are businesses, not families.

Maybe if we change our name to Hyatt or Marriott we could get a van with our name on it?


Jenny said...

So is this an announcement or a pre-announcement? :P

I haven't seen that calculator. Fun! My brother and sister-in-law live with her parents as a permanent arrangement. And sure enough her family is Asian just as the demographics at the bottom would suggest.

I am a little unclear on the married couple stat. Is it saying that only 21% of households are headed by married couples or are they headed by married couples with zero children? If it means married couples in general, I am a bit shocked by the low number.

MrsDarwin said...

It is neither! This is a meditation on the fighting in the back seat.

Jenny said...

I'm teasing! I'm teasing! :) I am feeling the baby itch right now but have to wait for some hopefully temporary medical issues to be resolved so my baby radar is on high.

Back seat fighting...I was the oldest and the official human barrier in the backseat between my two squabbling younger siblings. My siblings who were frequently car sick. Good times...

Darwin said...

I am a little unclear on the married couple stat. Is it saying that only 21% of households are headed by married couples or are they headed by married couples with zero children? If it means married couples in general, I am a bit shocked by the low number.

The number you get for each configuration of family is the percentage of the households in the country that have precisely that configuration. So 21% of households consist of a married couple and no children (some probably never had children and some are older and have all children moved out.)

Fooling around with it a bit more, I find a few more amusing tidbits:

As a couple with 5 children under 18, our configuration of family was most common (within the last century) in 1900 when around 2.5% of households had this configuration. There was a bump in the 50s and 60s when it went back up to around 1.5% households were like this. Now it's 0.18%

It also notes that "Compared to other groups, a higher proportion of Hispanics live in these households" and that "The greatest number of these households have incomes between $75,000 and $150,000."

Add one more kid, and a few things change. Still pretty common in 1900, with 1.5% of households. The baby boom is a lot smaller, only 0.65% of families in the 50s and 60s. Still most prevalent among Hispanics. But now, "The greatest number of these households have incomes under $30,000". Ouch.

8 kids under 18 is where it gets really crazy: There are only 8101 such households in the US now. Even in 1900, they only made up 0.35% of households. And "Compared to other groups, a higher proportion of people other than Hispanics, blacks, while or Asians live in these households." Plus "The greatest number of these households have incomes under $30,000."

I kind of wonder if some of these stats just break as you get bigger.

federoff9 said...

My 15 passenger van is my dream car. Wait, scratch that... mine is white, but my friends Barb has a 15 passenger RED van. If it only had flames shooting out the back wheel well, IT would be my dream car.

Stepping up to the "beast" of a 15 is a badge of honor. Don't knock it. Its ALWAYS a chance to evangelize, as children come pouring out of it like a clown car at the circus. Oh, and the 2 big "Apples" with the 11 little "Apples" on the back window get comments/ stares, too. :-)

Lauren said...

Interesting. As the prototypical married couple with two kids we're at 7.25%. Seems like it should be higher.

If you do get a super huge van, paint it some fun color. White hotel shuttle color is boring. Not like the Partridge family, but something cool. My 2 cents.

Love2Learn Mom said...

The calculator is pretty wild. Our family (married couple, 5 kids under 18, one over 18) came out with just 18,097 like it. Pretty wild.

And best of luck with the van calculating. We bought our 15 passenger van when #6 was born (and we had completely outgrown the minivan) and then we haven't given birth since. But it still is pretty handy for carpools and frequent guests. Thankfully I get to borrow my mother-in-law's Toyota when she winters in sunnier climes for a few months each year.

Jenny said...

One interesting bit is watching the baby boom. I, of course, wasn't around, but one hears that the reason the pill was so popular in the 60s is because women were drowning in babies during the 50s. Ten babies in ten years and the like. But it looks to me like families had four instead of three, three instead of two, two instead of one and extra large families were not that common. I don't see the baby tsunami that supposedly was breaking the mother's body and will to live. Maybe I am misreading...

Darwin said...

For the record, I think we'll definitely be getting a 12 seater van, not a 15. I can't imagine we'd be needing 15, and I don't want to deal with the extra length of wheel base.

It turns out there are four choices:
Mercedes (Badged as a Dodge prior to 2010)
Nissan (new in 2012)

Actually, since my goal is to start doing the research and buy something at the beginning of 2013, I'd been half thinking of putting together an informational mini-blog, since there don't seem to be many resources out there for the 100,000 or so families with 6 or more kids to haul around when it comes to car-picking. (Of course, I can see how this is a lot less fun to write about that, "What is 2012's hottest European sport sedan?" so it's no surprise the car sites aren't rushing out to cover it.)

Big Tex said...

Get one of these.

nicole said...

We drive a 15 passenger van. It is generically white. We thought about the 12 passenger, but wanted the extra space a big one provides (we keep the back seat out most of the time, so really only seat 11). Several families at church have the big vans and we sought their opinions. My husband had the same rationale as you when we outgrew our previous vehicle--why buy a car we would outgrow if we had just one more kid? We don't think our family will grow, but of course never say never. I hate parking the beast and am very particular about where I park. I don't want to hit other cars. But I have come to love my giant van. We considered asking the local university if they wanted to sponsor us and put their logo on it.

Oh, and I was mistaken for a shuttle when arriving at a hotel for a blogging event. The valet driver was quite surprised to open the side doors and see just my baby in the car. ;)

Love2Learn Mom said...

The reason we bought the 12 rather than the 15 passenger was the cost. We were able to buy a 1 year old 15 passenger (8 years ago now) for 1/2 the retail price; 30,000 miles and a lot of nice features (though I'm afraid it *is* white!). I think there's just a lot less market for them than for the 12. Parking is a pain - I just find drive-thru spots and walk a little farther

It totally rocks for road trips.

JMB said...

I love my Suburban! I recently went on a 1000K mile road trip with 6 kids, 15 to 9 and two adults and we were comfy. It totally rocks.

Matthew Lickona said...


Joy said...

We have a ford e350 (white!) 12 passenger and it has been great. Bought from a business when it had around 30,000 miles on it. I like that it's strong enough to pull our trailer (my new favorite way to "camp"). Gas mileage ~13 mpg. Not when pulling the trailer though.

Foxfier said...

About a decade back, the classic Ford van was awesome-- very easy to drive, good suspension, low road noise. They're still the go-to for military buys (at least, that I've seen-- that's where I drove them, too) so there's that....

Don't buy military surplus, though!

Matt Federoff said...

As federoff9's husband...I say step up the "mighty 15". We did so back in 2001 when we had our sixth and we have never regretted it.

With the 15, we have room for all 10 (soon to be 11), and Grandma, or a few of our kids' friends, and/or the results of the Costco run.

Or we can take the entire Webelos II den to the Civil Ware reenactment, or so on and so forth. You get the idea.

We've owned 2, both Chevy Express 3500's. They've proven to be extremely reliable (we only lost the first one because it got side-swiped by a Semi).

Plus with the pro-life bumper stickers, 12 Apple Stickers on the back window, and general large size, it's just glorious in it's big obnoxious Catholic-ness.

One does have to be careful, of course. One time we pulled off the side of the road to switch drivers, only to have a group of illegals run out of the bushes towards us. They thought we were their ride! As soon as they caught sight of my wife driving, they turned on a dime and went scurrying back into the desert. Things that only happen here in the Southwest :)

According to Chevy, there is no difference in gas mileage between the 15, the 12, or the Suburban. They're all based on the same chassis and engine.

The insurance on the van is cheaper than the suburban as it not nearly a theft target.

We bought our current one used (3 years, 54K miles) for $9500,00 from a dealer.

However you go...welcome to rarified air of extreme Catholic fertility. It's a fun place to be!

nicole said...

Oh, have to add I was quite surprised when we got our license plates in the mail and realized the state of Texas considers our 15-passenger a private bus! If I drove for a day care I would have to have a CDL!

The Sojourner said...

My family structure is very and husband. We'll have to work our way into one of those <1% groups. ^^

My parents have a 24-year-old, a 5-year-old, and a 5-month-old at home. That's supposedly .52% of households, with this structure being most common in 1940, of all things.

Although my family is definitely weird, I'd think the 1 over 18 and 2 under would be more common. Say your children were 19, 16, and 13. I guess that's not as common as I'd think.

The Sojourner said...

I tried it just for giggles, and that calculator cuts you off after 13 people. (I tried 11 under 18, which I grant would require superfertility, and I tried 9 under 18 and a couple over 18--which would happen if you had a baby every 2 years for 20 years and a couple of your college kids still lived at home. It cut me off either way.) At that point, you're at "less than 1000 households" anyway, so it's not like the number is going to get smaller as you add kids to your hypothetical Duggar family.

Jordana said...

We have a 12-passenger Chevy van. I don't love it, and it changed the places I park immediately. I'll park very, very far away from everything if I can just avoid backing up. I've also had my own and only accident while driving it. However, it is nice to be able to haul all the kidlets and the occasional friend around in it. I can't say that all fighting and scuffling has magically ceased though.

The very best thing about the van itself though is that we found one with passenger doors on both sides. That's a feature that's somewhat hard to come by, but that I really, really find makes life much easier.