Dual-DINK Demographics – Two Sides of the Demand Equation
This is Part 8 of a multipart series, please see past posts for context – Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Visit JharrisPHD.com for all past articles, biographical information, and photography portfolio.
Who are the Dual-DINKs?
If you study demographics, you are already familiar with the term DINK. For those new to the game it stands for Dual Income-No Kids and refers to households with two effective income earners and no children under the age of 18. The commercial real estate community tracks DINKs as they tend to demand multifamily-rental housing (a commercial asset class) at much greater propensity than their child-laden or single compatriots. As an aside, the two income earners need not be married for this concept (see Part 7 on the growing roommate phenomena). With two incomes and no kids, there is a larger budget for rent as well as for travel (hotel demand) and retail expenditures (especially at food and drinking establishments). When you think about the hip, walkable, mixed-use retail/apartment development you can be guaranteed DINKs will be a good majority of the residents and consumers of the nightlife. But, what people fail to consider, is that there are actually two sets of DINKs, and they have differing but often very similar demands in terms of real estate needs.
Demands of DINK 1s – Aged 25 to 34
The first DINK cohort is those aged 25 to 34 and are considered the demographic set most likely to demand rental housing. They also spend a substantially higher proportion of discretionary income (assuming they have some left after paying the rent) on restaurants, experiential retail, and increasingly travel (this is a newer phenomena). Of recent years, you can call them Millennials, and because this has been written about so much, I can safely stop right there. For purposes of today, think of DINK 1 as the classic renter hoping to buy a house later in life, most likely after a marriage event. The next group of DINKs are quite different, or are they?
Demands of DINK 2s – Aged 60 to 84
By age 60, most people will only have adult children (see Part 7 for clues on why or when they may move out or have not) and have income from wage work, business ownership, and/or proceeds from retirement savings and social security/pensions. As such, the demands for residences can change substantially if so chosen. First, space can be downsized; the prototypical +2,500 (4+ bed/2-car garage, etc.) family home may be too big and expensive to up-keep. Plus, selling it may be a needed means of raising cash for living expenses during retirement. Secondly, being in “good school districts” is no longer a requirement and may not be worth the higher taxes or suburban locale that often comes with qualifying for such an amenity. In short, many households over 60 will relocate for cost savings and or lifestyle choice. Final note, a lot of people are expected to live beyond 84; I am omitting from the following analyses of data as beyond 84 there is a higher propensity to special facility care and living arrangements, thus it does not truly fit the Dual-DINK investment theory to follow.
Can We All Just Live Together?
While Baby Boomers and Gen-Y/Millennial types seem quite opposite in many ways, they are secretly more similar than one would expect a first glance. Many “older” people are choosing to live in hip, walkable, urban environments all the time. This is especially true of highly educated boomers who are likely to keep their knowledge/creative type jobs past the age of 70. In truth, there is little reason for many to retire by 66 (the full retirement age for those claiming social security today); there is still much work to be done and there is likely to remain a shortage of people qualified to fill such jobs for the next decade. Thus, why not reduce one’s commute and aggregate housing cost and even boost quality of life! I have personally witnessed many examples of high-end, market-rate apartments laden with people in there 60s/70s and later 20s/30s; it’s far more common that one may realize.
Why We Care – Growth Stats on the Dual-DINKs
What is fun about studying demographic data is that there is hyper-reliable numbers freely published by the U.S. Census Bureau. The last release of long-term population and age forecasts was in 2017; and is fully relevant today. Using this data, I created the Dual-DINK cohort; all those aged 25-34 and 60-84 combined. To note, when you read most analyses of DINKs or retirees, you will not often see a combo like this, so consider yourself lucky. Here is the data:
- Total Population in 2016 – 323.1 Million
- Total Population in 2020 – 332.6 Million
- Annualized Growth Rate – 0.51%
- Dual-DINKs in 2016 – 107.0 Million (33.12% of Total Pop.)
- Dual-DINKs in 2020 – 116.9 Million (35.13% of Total Pop.)
- Annualized Growth Rate – 0.75% (or 46.7% faster than Total Pop.)
Any group growing 46.7% faster than the population at large should be respected and studied. If you are curious why the apartment market keeps growing despite high levels of new supply, look no further (be sure to include the record levels of employment in that analysis). Things get even more interesting for the upcoming decade:
- Total Population in 2020 – 332.6 Million
- Total Population in 2030 – 355.1 Million
- Annualized Growth Rate – 0.66%
- Dual-DINKs in 2020 – 116.9 Million (33.12% of Total Pop.)
- Dual-DINKs in 2030 – 130.0 Million (36.6% of Total Pop.)
- Annualized Growth Rate – 1.07% (or 63.2% faster than Total Pop.)
After 2030, the overall population growth rate is expected to overtake the Dual-DINK growth rate (0.51% vs. 0.21%) but Dual-DINKs are expected to grow and hold a steady 35% to 36% of the population until at least 2060, the end of the Census Bureau’s projections. Thus, any real estate investment thesis based on serving the Dual-DINK market is on solid ground, at least demographically.
Many developers are programming for one or the other market while many more should be thinking about how to design for both in one building/complex. This trend is most applicable to the multi-housing industry, especially the urban focused developer/landlord community; but, this trend also has applications to retail, restaurants, hotels. Given that both are unique forms of consumers that may utilize e-commerce at an increasing rate, industrial developers should also pay attention. Office builders are not off the hook, the Dual-DINKs (both sets) are increasingly choosing where to live based on quality of life; employers, and thus office space, will need to follow. Unlike other economic trends, changing the rate of aging is pretty tough, thus you can consider this as stable as one can find, thus all investors should take heed.