Owning an iPhone is a common indicator that you’re rich

Counting bills


This is correct, two mobile computing devices have become an indicator as to how rich you really are, according to a paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

"Across all years in our data, no individual brand is as predictive of being high-income as owning an Apple iPhone in 2016", researchers Marianne Bertrand and Emir Kamenica wrote. Economists found that almost seven out of ten times, a person with an iPhone has a higher income than others.

According to the researchers, owning an iPhone gave them a 69.1 percent chance of correctly guessing that a person was in the high-income bracket, or top quartile, of his or her group, such as single adults or couples with dependents. After all, iPhones were only introduced in 2007. In 2004, the top brands were a butter brand called Land O' Lakes Regular, Reynold Wrap aluminum foil, and Toshiba TV sets. In 1992, some of the top brands that were associated with wealth in the U.S., in no particular order, were Grey Poupon Dijon mustard, Kodak cameras, Kikkoman soy sauce, and Philadelphia Cream Cheese. The most recent data was taken in 2016. In a sample of almost 10,000 people, owning an iPhone in 2016 gave researchers a 62 percent chance of accurately guessing whether or not someone was educated.

However, the research also shows that owning a generic Android phone (60 percent) or using Verizon (61 percent), which was the priciest carrier for wireless service in 2016, also were reliable indicators of wealth, too. The data includes bi-annual questions and info on household income based on a face-to-face interview.

The paper is a look at how different groups - such as rich and poor, black and white, men and women - have had their preferences diverge over time. The researchers describe high-income as "being in the top quartile of income for households of that type". Their conclusion "runs against the popular narrative of the USA becoming an increasingly divided society", they said.

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