Her first plan must be tentative, and on the whole experimentally tried out. No very definite instruction can be give as to the proportion of income to be assigned to the various activities of the family. This is not because the subject has not received attention. Various plans have been proposed for formulating proper standards of family life. Lie Play, the French student of family life, spent many years observing the customs of family groups in many parts of the world, in order that the possibilities of controlling one's one's environment and the extent to which the environment is determining might be better under-stood. On the basis of extensive and elaborate computation, Ernst Engel undertook to deduce certain "laws of expenditure" which indicate within wide limits the relationships between total income and the proportion allotted to any special wants. These "laws" are usually formulated as follows:
1. The lower the income the larger the proportion ned by sustenance.
2 Lodging, warming, and lighting absorb an invari-proportion, whatever the income.
3. Clothing claims a constant proportion.
4. The larger the income the greater the proportion allotted to well-being.
These studies were limited, however, to families on a low pecuniary level. The conclusions, therefore, have no weight as indicating what is desirable. They merely summarize the practice of those who have lived under the pressure of poverty, and indicate in statistical form the truism that so long as a family is in the grasp of severe poverty, food will claim a disproportionate share of the slender resources. If as the income increases the proportions allotted to housing and clothes remain constant, it is because with housing and clothing are associated satisfactions of varied kinds, social intercourse, beauty, display, which demand satisfaction.
It is to be hoped that true bases of expenditure may some day be formulated; but that will be possible only when more intelligence has been devoted to the household problem. When housekeepers, trained in the technique of spending, wise as to the nature of the interests intrusted to their care, become interested enough to keep careful accounts, to make experiments which require patience and devotion, and to report the results for the benefit of others engaged in similar undertakings, a body of data will become available from which conclusions as to desired standards of living may be drawn.
Obviously, however, the intelligent young housekeeper will even now familiarize herself with the suggestions contained in such studies as those referred to, in order that she may obtain the help which they may afford in determining when and how to meet peculiar needs for which special provision must be made. For example, if shelter, heat, and light assume a fairly constant proportion, and that somewhere near one fifth, and she finds that her expenditures conform pretty closely to that measure, she may feel fairly well satisfied, unless she should argue that during the first few years of married life, when social demands are few, while her children are little, she will reduce this item to an even lower claim by doing without a sitting room and guest room, or by some other limitation in housing, in order that there may be large freedom later on when the husband is able to be at home more and the children demand more space and more entertaining.
In such a spirit of foresight and regard for values will she distribute all her resources - her money income, her own time and strength, and the time and strength of those whose service she commands. Especially interesting questions arise in connection with processes formerly closely related to family life, now ready to sever connection with it Weaving and spinning have gone. Should sewing go? Will she make the little garments for the first baby, or buy them already made and save her eyesight and nervous force? Brewing was once a household process. Shall baking go? Will she make or buy her family's supply of jams and other sweet things for the winter's enjoyment? If she lives in a community where there is no wage-paid work for women which might attract her for a time; if the bakers of her town make poor bread under conditions of which she cannot approve; if the children need home baking because in their community domestic science has not been put in the school curriculum and they need to be taught to use their hands - under any of these circumstances she may well decide to cling to the earlier practice. And so with many other decisions. Perhaps her task cannot be better described than by saying that she will allot the various units of her resources so that she will get out of every one at least as much satisfaction as if it had been allotted to any other use.
With such a guiding principle, with the self-control and patience necessary to keep careful accounts and compare the results of the experiments as the years go by, and with the cooperation of the husband in encouraging such experimentation, the management of the group would become and remain a problem of increasing interest and dignity.
1. What is meant by the home as a "place of consumption"?
2. What are some of the results which should be attained from the expenditure of money?
3. For what needs must the income of a family provide?
4. What are the evidences that the outlay of money on household expenses is generally unsatisfactory?
5. Why has little attention been paid to the division of income?
6. What determines, in most cases, the amounts spent on the different household departments?
7. What should determine them?
8. What constitutes good buying?
9. Describe five observed instances of good or bad buying.
10. What is meant by "good standards of living"?
11. Under what conditions do you think a housekeeper is justified in taking up gainful employment?
12. What considerations other than those of pecuniary and industrial economy should help determine the method of living?
13. How can greater simplicity in living be secured?
14. How may the housekeeper use her power of imitation for the good of the family?
15. What should follow from the improvement of material or physical conditions of living?
16. Make a list of the industries which have in general disappeared from the city household.
17. Make a list of those which have partially disappeared.
18. Make a list of those which you think may disappear with advantage to family life.
19. Make a list of interests and occupations of the housekeeper which do or may replace the lost ones.
20. Criticize the following division of income for two adults and three children, viz.: rent, $500; wages, $500; operating expenses, $500; food, $700; clothes, $300; other satisfactions, $500.
Economic Function of Woman. E. T. Devine. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.
The Queen's Poor. Chapter I (The Household As A Social Unit), "Husband and Wife among the Poor." M. Loane. New York: Longmans, Green & Co.
The Woman Who Spends. B. J. Richardson. Boston: Whitcomb & Barrows.
The Cost of Living as Modified by Sanitary Science. Chapter IX (The Activities Of The Household), "Organization of the Household." E. H. Richards. New York: J. Wiley & Sons.
General Sociology. Chapter XXXI, "Interests"; Chapter XXXII, "The Individual." A. W. Small. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
The Standard of Living among Workingmen's Families in New York City. R. C. Chapin. New York: Charities Publication Committee.
Home Problems from a New Standpoint. Caroline L. Hunt. Boston: Whitcomb & Barrows.
American Economic Review. II, 269. "The Backward Art of Spending Money." W. C. Mitchell.