Dual Income No Kids (DINK) is a slang term used to describe a couple with two incomes who do not have children. DINK couples are distinct from DINKY couples, which is short for Dual Income No Kids Yet. In most cases, DINKs have chosen to remain child-free for purposes of focusing on their careers.
DINK describes more than just your status as a child-free couple. It's come to be synonymous with a specific type of lifestyle, often focused on professional advancement and building wealth. The growing popularity of the DINK lifestyle affects both the individuals who choose to remain child-free as well as society as a whole.
Definition and Examples of Dual Income No Kids
A growing number of couples in the U.S. are now classified as DINKs or DINKYs. This is because more people are either having children later in life or forgoing the process entirely. The median age for a woman to get married today is 27.4 and for a man, it’s 29.6. In 1967, for comparison, it was 20.6 for a woman and 23.1 for a man. When it comes to having children, the median age of first-time mothers, as of 2019, is 27—a record high for the nation.
Because children can be expensive to raise, DINKs are commonly viewed as having more disposable income than those who do not have children. However, this is not always true, as other factors have an impact on the wealth of DINKs, such as having low-paying jobs or living in a high-income area.
Partners in a DINK couple may or may not be married, and they could be a same-sex or a heterosexual couple. What each DINK couple has in common is that they do not have children living in their household who they are raising or supporting.
How DINK Works
As mentioned, DINK couples are often viewed as having more disposable income because they do not have to bear the costs associated with raising a child. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the cost of raising a child is approximately $233,610, which does not include expenses incurred after the child turns 18, such as college tuition.
For DINK couples, the costs of food, clothing, and long-term education that are often associated with raising one or more children are eliminated. This gives the couple the chance to save money and allocate it elsewhere.
Often, companies within the travel industry or consumer goods industry tend to target the DINK demographic, as these couples are considered to have more funds to spend on things like dining out, vacations, or a home.
Children also take time to raise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that parents of children 18 and under spend an average of 1.36 hours per day caring for their children. Those with children under the age of six spend longer, averaging 2.14 hours per day. DINK couples may have more free time and flexibility since they are not devoting these hours to child care.
DINK is often used as shorthand for a specific way of organizing your life and finances. There are many DINK groups on the internet on platforms such as Reddit, as well as blogs and websites celebrating the choice to remain child-free to have more money and freedom.
Couples whose children have moved out of the house—often referred to as empty nesters—may become part of the dual income, no kids demographic. This could free up expenses, giving the couple the opportunity to take a vacation or put more funds toward retirement.
The Impact of the DINK Lifestyle
A growing number of couples now fall into the DINK category. From 1976 to 2016, the percentage of adults living without children has increased by 19 percentage points, from 52.5% to 71.3%, according to the latest Census Bureau data. The number of births in the U.S. has been steadily on the decline for decades, too, and many women have reported wanting fewer children than in the past—a trend that the pandemic has accelerated. According to a recent survey, 34% (or nearly one-third) of women reported wanting to delay childbirth or have fewer children because of the pandemic.
The declining birth rate is concerning to some experts, as societies depend on continued population growth. Dropping below the "replacement rate" means there could be too few young people to support an aging population.
Alternatives to Dual Income No Kids
There are many alternatives to choosing the DINK lifestyle, as families can be structured in a variety of ways. Other family structures include:
- Single-parent families, comprised of one parent with at least one child
- Single-income families, composed of two coupled partners in which only one person works. These families may or may not include children
- Dual-income families with children and two working coupled parents
Family structure can affect many facets of your life, especially when it comes to finances. Before deciding to have children, it’s important to be financially prepared. Consider meeting with a financial advisor to develop a strategy that’s right for you and your lifestyle.
- Dual Income No Kids (DINK) refers to a couple who has two incomes and no children.
- DINKs are often viewed, sometimes incorrectly, as having more money and time because they haven't taken on the financial responsibility of raising children.
- DINK is often synonymous with a certain type of lifestyle, and because of that, not all couples who choose not to have children refer to themselves as such.