Why Homer Simpson's lifestyle is 'out of reach' for many Irish people

After taxes, Homer walks away with US$362.19 a week - adjusted for inflation that is almost €40,000 a year now
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

16.58 23 May 2023

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Why Homer Simpson's lifestyle...

Why Homer Simpson's lifestyle is 'out of reach' for many Irish people

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

16.58 23 May 2023

Share this article

Despite being loved by millions, Homer Simpson was never the brightest, or the best-looking.

One could argue that he was a spotty father at best, and - likely - not exactly someone you aspired to be.


Judging the show by today's standards, Homer's lifestyle is actually out of reach for a lot of people now.

Dr Rory Hearne is a lecturer in Social Policy at Maynooth University, and also an avid 'Simpsons' fan.

He told Newstalk's Sean Defoe for Moncrieff that Homer's lifestyle is not something people of today can afford.

"Actually his life is something that - what we would say 'generation locked out - would absolutely dream to have," he said.

"He had a home and his family had a home, and he was working in a factory.

"Unfortunately the reality in Ireland today is that there's no way in hell someone working in a factory - on an average wage, by themselves - could afford a home for their family," he added.

The Simpsons Picture by: Facebook/TheSimpsons

So what is this lifestyle that is so elusive?

House in the suburbs, three kids, two cars and one breadwinner with Marge - largely - not working.

Homer with only a high school degree walking into a well-paying job he clearly was not qualified for.

Homer's pal, Frank ‘Grimey’ Grimes, went insane thinking he was the only one who could see it.

The show started regularly in 1990 with Homer set up as a middle-class, American everyman.

In the 1996 episode ‘Much Apu About Nothing’, we get a shot of his paycheck.

After taxes - including a Bear Patrol Tax - he walks away with US$362.19 a week. That means his pre-tax pay is about US$25,000 a year.

That was released on May 5th 1996, when the exchange rate was around 64c to the Irish Punt.

It would have been IR£16,000 a year - about 85% of the average industrial wage.

Adjusted for inflation that is almost €40,000 a year now.

A US realty group actually valued their four-bed detached home in 2021 as worth about US$450,000 - cheaper than the average four-bed semi-D in Dublin and Wicklow.

Under Irish mortgage lending rules, and taking away a 10% deposit, the Simpsons would need an annual income of more than €101,000 to afford their home now.

While Marge worked a few jobs from policewoman to pretzel seller, the chances are in 2023 her stay-at-home parenting days are done.

Marge in the workforce

Helen Russell is from the Economic and Social Research Institute.

"Probably the majority of households would have been like that in the '80s, I suppose in Ireland," she said.

"I think that would be the most obvious shift; it really started in the mid-90s.

"From that period on, the proportion of women - especially married women - in the workforce really increased.

"[It] rose at a much higher level than in a lot of other countries," she said.

The number of women in the workforce in Ireland has roughly doubled since The Simpsons began airing, mostly due to greater education and access to jobs.

But also in part because raising a family on a single €40,000 income is not so easy in 2023.

The Simpsons were never loaded and they had money problems - leading to Dr Hearne's favourite episode "where Monty Burns cuts the dental plan from Homer and the rest of the workers in the factory."

However while there was always a way they managed to figure money out, the game has changed in 30 years.

Even walking into a job as good as Homer's, as a Nuclear Safety Inspector, is not as easy as it once was.

Ms Russell explained: "The credentials, I suppose have got higher and higher all the time," she said.

"I think that is an issue as well, when you're looking at young people from working class backgrounds and their access points.

"A lot of those jobs, that didn't require a university degree, no longer exist".

In fact the Simpsons, being ever self-aware, addressed this this issue last year in their 33rd season.

In an episode called 'Poorhouse Rock', Bart decides his Dad actually has it pretty good.

Only for a janitor at the Nuclear Plant, voiced by Hugh Jackman, to give him a lesson.

Dr Hearne thinks this is not inaccurate.

"You think of the depth of our social crisis now, where... those Barts and those Homers are now literally being evicted on to the streets, and can't even obtain a home," he said.

"The Simpsons of today in Ireland... it's almost like a different universe than The Simpsons of the 1990s," he added.

Reporting by: Sean Defoe

Main image: Split-screen image shows Homer Simpson, and a collection of US dollars. Picture by: Facebook/TheSimpsons/PaulPaladin/Alamy Stock Photo

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Frank ‘Grimey’ Grimes Helen Russell Homer Simpson Homer Simpson's Lifestyle Moncrieff Much Apu About Nothing Nuclear Safety Inspector Rory Hearne Salary The Simpsons

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