'Middle' families use bulk of gas

"Middle-aged" families account for the bulk of all US gas consumption, according to an analysis released today by the Conference Board. "Middle-aged" households (35-54), who represent about one-third of the nation's homes, buy well over 40 percent of the gasoline. Average gas expenditures by this group are nearly 30 percent higher than for the country as a whole.

Only 7 percent of the nation's gas is purchased by households under 25 and about 25 percent is bought by relatively older homes (those 55 and over).

Primary reasons for this substantial gasoline consumption by the middle-aged is that the 35-54 group comprises relatively large numbers of people of driving age and a high number of working wives.

This group also is more likely to live in the suburbs, where 45 percent of the gas is consumed compared with 23 percent in the central cities.

Who uses all that gas?

According to the Conference Board analysis:

* Gas consumption rises with family income. It is substantially below average in homes earning under $10,000 a year and is only slightly above average among $10,000-$15,000 families. But gas consumption zooms in the higher income brackets, from about 30 percent above average in the $15,000-$20,000 families to over 80 percent above the norm in the $35,000-and-up bracket.

* Households headed by craftworkers, nearly half of whom have more than four members in the family, consume about 40 percent more than the national average of gasoline. In families headed by managers and administrators, gas consumption is about 35 percent above the national norm and in families headed by professionals and technicians, 30 percent above the average.

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