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How rich was ‘Home Alone’ family? Economists weigh in, say among top 1% – Times of India

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The battle in “Home Alone” between 8-year-old Kevin McCallister and two burglars has unfolded on screens around the world every Christmas since the film premiered in 1990. And each year, for some viewers, the McCallisters’ grand home and lifestyle inspires its own tradition: wondering just how rich this family was. NYT turned to economists to find the answer.
Early in the film, one of the burglars says the McCallister home is their top target in a wealthy neighbourhood. “That’s the one, Marv; that’s the silver tuna,” Harry says, before speculating that the house contains a lot of “top-flight goods,” including VCRs, stereos, very fine jewelry and “odd marketable securities.” The home is the best clue as to how much money the McCallisters have.
The silver tuna, or its exterior anyway, is a real-world house in the Chicago suburb of Winnetka, one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in the US, according to Realtor.com. It appears to have enough space for Kevin and his four siblings to each have their own rooms, but also can accommodate an army of visitors. In 1990, the house was affordable only for the top 1% of Chicago household incomes, and that would still be the case today, according to economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The economists made this determination after looking at data including household incomes in the Chicago metropolitan statistical area for 1990 and 2022, the house’s property value, mortgage rates at the time, and typical taxes and insurance. The economists also determined the home would have been affordable to a household with an income of $305,000 in 1990 (about $665,000 in 2022). In the middle of 2022, a similar house would cost about $2.4 million. A home of that value would be affordable to a household with income of $730,000, which would be in the top 1% of Chicago-area households.
A commonly cited data point on the family’s wealth is their Christmas trip to Paris. Flying 15 people to Paris is expensive, especially with the four adults flying first class. The family also has other trappings of significant-but-not-stratospheric wealth: They wear nice clothes and hire multiple vans to take them to the airport, yes, but when Kate, Kevin’s mother, is trying to bribe an elderly couple to give up their tickets from Paris so she can get home, she offers jewellery and cash, but hints that her Rolex might be fake.
“Home Alone” never explains what the parents do for work. Fans have suggested Kevin’s mother Kate is a fashion designer, because the house has several mannequins inside, which later feature in one of Kevin’s attempts to trick the burglars into thinking he is not, in fact, home alone. One theory posits Kevin’s father Peter is involved with organised crime, his home was targeted as vendetta, and Kevin’s violence is the product of exposure to criminal activity. NYT could not rule out this theory.



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