iPhones Biggest Clue To Having High Income

Owning an iPhone is the single most accurate hint that an American is rich according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The organization revealed the stat in a research paper on the pattern of a growing divide in the cultural, lifestyle and economic choices of differing demographic groups in the US.

One of the questions it addressed was which brands gave the most accurate clues of the owner being high-income. That was a comparative term defined as being among the 25% of highest earners among people with the same household set-up (such as “single householder” or “married couple with dependants.”)

Crunching the numbers, based on extensive 2016 data gathered from surveyed households, it was discovered that if all you knew about a household was that somebody owned an iPhone and you then guessed they were high-income, you had a 69.1 percent chance of being correct, compared with a 25% chance if you guessed randomly with no information. (Put another way, 69.1% of households with an iPhone were in the top 25% of incomes for their household type.)

That was narrowly ahead of iPad ownership on 66.9 percent, Verizon Wireless use on 61% and owning an Android phone on 59.5%. It’s that last number which raises some serious questions about the statistics as iPhone and Android cover the vast majority of US smartphones. Given than one recent estimate had 77% of Americans owning a smartphone, it doesn’t seem to add up that more than half of smartphone owners fall into the high-income category.

Either way, tech dominates the top ten list for 2016, with other products linked to high income including HP printers and fax machines, AT&T cellular use and Samsung TVs. The only non-tech items were Kikkoman soy sauce, Cascade Complete diswasher supplies and Ziploc bags.

It’s a big change from similar analysis in the past. A 2004 list had Land O’Lakes Regular butter as the top brand indicating high-income status, with Toshiba TV and AT&T long-distance calling the only tech items. In 1992 the top spot went to Grey Poupon Dijon mustard, just ahead of Kodak film.