Affluenza: Shopping and Spending

Some sobering stories and stats about consumerism in America (all quotes from the book Affluenza):

  1. “We spend more on shoes, jewelry, and watches ($100 billion) than on higher education ($99 billion).” pg. 13
  2. “nearly 30 percent of Americans buy Christmas presents for their pets; 11 percent buy them for their neighbors.” (pg. 13)
  3. “In 1986, America still had more high schools than shopping centers.  Less than twenty years later, we have more than twice as many shopping centers (46,438) as high schools (22,180).” (pg. 13)
  4. “Americans now spend six hours a week shopping and only forty minutes playing with our kids” (pg. 14)
  5. The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota is “America’s number one visitor attraction.” (pg. 15)
  6. “The average American household carried about $9,000 in credit card debt during the year 2002, for a total of $764 billion.  Even college students average $2,500.  Total American credit card indebtedness tripled in the 1990s.” (pg. 20)
  7. “Current bankruptcy rates exceed those experienced during the Great Depression.” (pg. 20)
  8. “There are now more than 30,000 self-storage facilities in the country, offering over 1.3 billion square feet of relief for a legion of customers starting home businesses, combining households, getting organized after a move, or just unable to stop buying.  The industry has expanded fortyfold since the 1960s, from virtually nothing to $12 billion annually, making it larger than the U.S. music industry.” (pg. 32)
  9. “Spending by … American children recently began growing by a torrid 20 percent a year” and “stands at about $670 billion today (more than the U.S. military budget of $418 billion)” (pg. 55)
  10. “In 1984, kids four to twelve spent about $4 billion of their own money.  This year, they’ll spend $35 billion.  Marketing to children has become the hottest trend in the advertising world.” (pg. 55)
  11. “From 1980 to 2004 the amount spent on children’s advertising in America rose from $100 million to $15 billion a year” (pg. 55)
  12. “The average child gets about seventy toys a year.” (pg. 55)
  13. “Wal-Mart imports 10 percent of all America’s total imports from China, and if it were a country, it would rank ahead of Great Britain and Russia in total imports.” (pg. 66)
  14. “Since 1950, the amount of land in our communities devoted to public uses — parks, civic buildings, schools, churches, and so on — decreased by a fifth, while the percentage of income we spend for house mortgages and rental payments increased from a fifth to a full half” (pg. 70)
  15. “The rate of clinical depression in the United States today is ten times what it was before 1945.” (pg. 77)
  16. American college students “now spend nearly $6 billion a year on booze, more than they spend on all other beverages and their books combined.” (pg. 78)
  17. “In 1979, people who earned incomes of more than $1 million (in 1991 dollars) gave 7 percent o their after-tax incomes away.  Twelve years later, that figure had dropped to less than 4 percent.  This, at a time when advocates of sharp cuts in government welfare programs suggested that private charity would make up much of the difference.” (pg. 82)
  18. “Average CEO pay has continued to increase at double-digit rates — by 27 percent in 2003.  By 2000, CEOs earned 475 times what their average workers made (at financially ailing Delta Airlines, the gap was 1,531 to 1!), up from 40 times as much in 1980 and 84 times as much in 1990.” (pg. 84)
  19. “In three studies with 140 adolescents, Ryan and colleague Tim Kasser showed that those with aspirations for wealth and fame were more depressed and had lower self-esteem than other adolescents whose aspirations centered on self-acceptance, family and friends, and community feeling.” (pg. 115)
  20. “On average, we gulp about a 55 gallon drum of soft drinks every year, eat 150 fatty pounds of meat annually, and ingest the equivalent of 53 teaspoons of sugar every day.” (pg. 120)


One response to “Affluenza: Shopping and Spending”

  1. Some of the stats could be explained. For example people spend more on pets than neighbors because they consider pets family. But I think one of the most outrageous signs of consumerism are the self-storage facilities.