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The Santa Index: How Much is Santa Worth?

This article was written by in Career and Work. 9 comments.

Every year around Mother’s Day, looks at the role of a typical mother in a typical household and calculates an annual salary based on the market rates for the various jobs she does. Using the Mom Salary Wizard, I determined that the media salary for a mother of two school-age children living in my town is over $134,000.

This calculation doesn’t mean that she should only accept a full-time job that pays at least this amount, and it doesn’t mean that a family would need to pay this much to hire others to take care of mom’s responsibilities. Perhaps it encourages people not to underestimate the important roles covered by the typical mother in an average household.

The graphic included here takes a similar approach and applies it to Santa Claus. Looking at the work Santa does in order for Christmas to be successful, researchers have determined that Santa’s annual income should be almost $133,000. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they used median salaries for jobs like farmworker (to represent Santa’s reindeer wrangling), correspondence clerk (to represent Santa’s letter reading), and retail sales (to represent Santa’s shopping on behalf of consumers).

Santa Index

Updated October 9, 2016 and originally published December 13, 2011.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

A good one!!! Happy Holidays!

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avatar 2 Anonymous

“and it doesn’t mean that a family would need to pay this much to hire others to take care of mom’s responsibilities.”

Which makes the number simply wrong.

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avatar 3 Luke Landes

The mom number — and the Santa number — are indices, though, so it doesn’t really matter that it’s not an accurate representation of what someone would actually pay for those services from one person. What’s important is that the calculation remains consistent from year to year in order to give a numeric frame of reference over time to something that is somewhat intangible. Also… these indices exist mostly for fun.

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avatar 4 Anonymous

Now come on, that’s some serious spin.

First of all it’s not an index. The Dow Jones Industrial index is an index. It doesn’t represent the actual dollar value of a real thing. IBM stock which is part of the index does. The Mom number is like IBM stock, not the DJIA, it’s explicitly supposed to represent a real number.

Second of all it’s purpose has nothing to do with a frame of reference over time. Sure they can use it to compare the changes from one year to the next but they could easily do that by turning it into a real index and reporting it like the case shiller home price index as a number that is pegged to a baseline value such as 100 and determine how much it changes. Now if they did that and reported the change in the index such as wages went up by 3% but the cost of what mom does would have went up 4% do you think anyone would care about it at all? Of course not.

The point of the number is to put an actual salary number on the work mom does. And explicitly states that. In fact they say things like this: “Working Moms would earn US$71,860 above their regular salary for their mom duties.” That is not about promoting the change. That is about promoting the actual dollar value of the work.

I understand its partially for fun but that doesn’t change my original statement. If they could get remotely close to a real value it might be useful. Unfortunately the value they have come up with is just spectacularly wrong.

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avatar 5 Ceecee

To quote the credit card commercial…….the work of a mom: priceless. The Santa index is funny.

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avatar 6 Anonymous

Thanks for sharing this infographic. Pretty funny!

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avatar 7 Cejay

Mom should be worth more. Santa maybe not as much. But enjoyed the post a lot.

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avatar 8 qixx

One of these two indecies are just wrong. Mom worth $134,000 Santa at $133,000. There is no way Mom is worth only $1,000 more a year than Santa.

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avatar 9 lynn

This brought a laugh to my heart! Thanks.

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