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In the US, mostly worries about social problems from disparities. Parents may not want their kids to know if their family is substantially wealthier or poorer than their friends' families. Heck, adults might not want to know it either. At some level of very-wealthy or very-poor it becomes obvious, but there's a broad set of salaries in the middle that are broadly lumped in as "middle class". Many people in that tier think of themselves as just middle class, and socioeconomically roughly on par with other middle-class people. To maintain that polite fiction, it can help not to know that you actually make 2x as much as your friend, or vice versa (in many middle-class communities, salaries of both $120k and $60k can be found).

Companies similarly worry about a hit to team cohesion that could result if team-members find out that some of them are paid much more than others.

"In the interest of fairness, Fog Creek's compensation policy is open, public, simple, and accountable. Many companies try to obfuscate the rules they use for determining compensation in hopes that they won't get caught paying some people too much and others too little. Some companies actually consider it a firing offense to reveal your salary!

We feel that in the long run, this can only hurt us through negative morale, high turnover, and destructive office politics."


I was just reading that article this morning. At a previous company I worked at salaries weren't revealed, but rumors of salaries went around. Things like "did you hear that x just got a $10k raise?"

It really wasn't good for morale. A lot of time was wasted worrying about salaries rather than building products.

That makes a lot of sense. Especially for younger kids. Though I wonder if, at a certain point, the loss of financial knowledge is worth the tradeoff.

Probably not worth the trade off, however, I think that financial knowledge can be passed on while always stressing humility & not advertising what you make or how much you have.

That being said, I also think that a lot of people are stuck in a bit of a vicious circle. These same people know they don't have a lot of financial knowledge, but they also don't know who to ask or how to ask primarily because no one around them would talk about money or finances.

I had this problem. My parents never talked to me about how much things cost. I had a rude awakening when I learned how much basic rent was, even more so when I learned what my rent was when I was a kid.

My kids will know how much their stuff costs, and they will earn their luxuries.

Your kids probably know better than you if you make more money than their friends' parents. With sleepovers and carpooling and all the time and activities they spend on both sides, there's really no way to hide this, especially at a $120k vs $60k disparity.

I've actually been surprised, more often than not, when I've found out how much people make (including some family friends I knew as a kid). It doesn't correlate all that well with how much I would've guessed they were making. One big reason is that people have wildly different savings rates, and I don't generally have a way to guess that: someone who "looks like" they're living at $70k/yr might actually be making a lot more and banking it for early retirement.

Another reason was that, even when only estimating spending, as a kid I tended to over-emphasize "conspicuous consumption" and gadgets: assumed the people with bigger TVs, new game consoles, better cars, etc. were wealthier. What I massively underestimated was the cost of "nice" vacations (esp. compared to relatively minor items like game consoles), so it was really the people who liked to travel a lot who spent more, but I never saw their spending happen when I was around.

edit: To add one more confound, I think I also put too much emphasis on "class" associations: I assumed parents working blue-collar jobs made less than white-collar, which was not always true, esp. when you took into account that some blue-collar families had 2x incomes.

In my experience, kids can see how much money is going out, or how much their parents care about saving money, buying luxury items, etc., but have no idea how much is coming in. A frugal $120k family can live identically to a profligate/indebted $60k family, and kids will be none the wiser until they gain a more subtle appreciation of earnings by profession.

Kids know if you spend more money than their friends' parents. Not if you make more.

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