New Research Claims iPhone Ownership Top Indicator of Wealth in U.S.

New research shows that owning an iPhone is the most common sign of exhibiting wealth for people in the United States.

According to a new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper from University of Chicago economists Marianne Bertrand and Emir Kamenica that sought to determine whether US cultural preferences have changed across various groups over time, there’s a 69% chance to correctly predict that a household is “high-income” based on iPhone ownership.

“Knowing whether someone owns an iPad in 2016 allows us to guess correctly whether the person is in the top or bottom income quartile 69 percent of the time,” write Bertrand and Kamenica.

Of course, owning an iPhone doesn’t mean that a person is rich, but the device serves as the most reliable indicator for determining if someone falls into a higher income bracket. “Across all years in our data, no individual brand is as predictive of being high-income as owning an Apple iPhone in 2016,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers used data from Mediamark Research Intelligence, which provided a sample size of 6,394. The data includes bi-annual questions and info on household income on a face-to-face interview.

The study included the top predictors for other years. In 1992, some of the top brands that were associated with wealth in the United States, in no particular order, were Grey Poupon Dijon mustard, Kodak cameras, Kikkoman soy sauce, and Philadelphia Cream Cheese. In 2004, the top brands were a butter brand called Land O’ Lakes Regular, Reynold Wrap aluminum foil, and Toshiba TV sets.

In 2016, the list is dominated by technology-related entries, including iPhone ownership on top of the list, followed by iPad ownership, being on the Verizon Wireless network, owning an Android phone, used Kikkoman, HP printer ownership, being on the AT&T network, and Samsung TV ownership.

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