Researchers claim iPhone and iPad ownership is a wealth indicator

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in iPhone
Owning an iPhone or an iPad is a strong indicator that someone has a high income, according to a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, with both of Apple's mobile devices found to be one of the most common wealth status symbols of all brands and products.




The paper, "Coming Apart? Cultural Distances in the United States over Time" by University of Chicago economists Marianne Bertrand and Emir Kamenica, analyzed trends in differences between groups of people, including income, education, gender, race, and political ideology. Business Insider reports part of the paper covers the usage of brands by people with different levels of wealth in 1992, 2004, and 2016, with iOS devices topping the list for the most recent year examined in the study.

According to the data, if the respondent said they owned an iPhone, this gave the researchers a 69.1 percent chance of determining the person had a "high income" and were in the top quartile for income. An iPad gave similar results with a 66.9 percent chance, while owning an Android smartphone was in fourth place at 59.5 percent.

Seven of the ten spots in the 2016 Brands list are technology related, with using Verizon Wireless in third with 61 percent, owing a HP printer or fax machine at 58.2 percent, using AT&T for cellular at 58.1 percent, and owning a Samsung TV scoring 58 percent.




The results for 2004 highlight how technology-focused 2016's list is, with owning a Toshiba TV in seventh place at 58.3 percent for that year, while using AT&T for long-distance call services was in eighth position with 57.5 percent.

Goth the iPhone and iPad's 2016 percentages are also far higher than the highest indicators in the other two monitored years. The highest indicator for 1992 was the usage of Grey Poupon Dijon mustard at 62.2 percent, while 2004's biggest indicator was using Land O' Lakes Regular butter at 59.2 percent.

"Across all years in our data, no individual brand is as predictive of being high-income as owning an Apple iPhone in 2016," claim the researchers.

As with other survey-based analysis of nations, there are some caveats to the research, and part of this may be from its methodology. In this case, the researchers sourced data from Mediamark Research Intelligence, which used bi-annual questionnaires and interviews, with a sample size of 6,394.

This is not the first time Apple products have been linked to affluence. A 2009 study into computers and electronic device usage in U.S. households noted 36 percent of Apple computer owners reported household incomes greater than $100,000, compared to 21 percent of all consumers. Apple households also owned double the number of consumer electronic devices compared to the average computer-owning household at the time.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    cjcampbellcjcampbell Posts: 105member
     :D 

    Astounding! Who would have that owning a $1,000+ phone was an indicator of high income?

    Whoa—here’s a thought. I bet they would find that owning a BMW might have the same correlation. 
    muthuk_vanalingamjbdragonSpamSandwichcurtis hannah78Bandittallest skilcgWerksjony0
  • Reply 2 of 38
    asciiascii Posts: 5,852member
    What a motley collection of indicators.
    fotoformatrogifan_newcgWerks
  • Reply 3 of 38
    PmikPmik Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    Haha, all the Kids under 12 use it :)
    jbdragon
  • Reply 4 of 38
    JohnCoveredInBeesJohnCoveredInBees Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    You could just as easily say an indicator of wealth is the ability to randomly dish out $1000+ (sometimes multiple times for various spouse and/or kids) is an indicator of wealth - regardless of what it is. Interesting though, since most of the time you get a huge discount/incentive price from your cell company to get whatever phone you choose, so most people don't even really "FEEL" the burn of buying the new phones. And what about owning an Android phone in the same price range? Is that somehow NOT an indicator of wealth?
    jbdragon
  • Reply 5 of 38
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,290member
    You could just as easily say an indicator of wealth is the ability to randomly dish out $1000+ (sometimes multiple times for various spouse and/or kids) is an indicator of wealth - regardless of what it is. Interesting though, since most of the time you get a huge discount/incentive price from your cell company to get whatever phone you choose, so most people don't even really "FEEL" the burn of buying the new phones. And what about owning an Android phone in the same price range? Is that somehow NOT an indicator of wealth?
    Apparently it is, only about 10% behind iPhones and iPads as an indicator of wealth. That's a lot closer than I might have expected considering how many budget smartphones there are. 
  • Reply 6 of 38
    Another interesting metric .. iOS / Apple customers are about  2x  as likely to have an advanced degree beyond undergraduate (Master's, Law, Medicine, PhD); only 8% of the U.S. population falls within this category, though.
  • Reply 7 of 38
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,290member
    Another interesting metric .. iOS / Apple customers are about  2x  as likely to have an advanced degree beyond undergraduate (Master's, Law, Medicine, PhD); only 8% of the U.S. population falls within this category, though.
    If you lived in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia in 2016 that's what the claim is. 
    edited July 9 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 8 of 38
    gutengelgutengel Posts: 136member
    I love when a Samsung user tells me I'm overpaying for my iPhone, and then I ask how long do they use their phones for. An iPhone can be used for 5 years, Android users are lucky if they can get anything longer than 2.5 years. It's an investment and money well spent.
    fotoformatpte appleStrangeDaysboltsfan17racerhomie3watto_cobrahydrogenjony0
  • Reply 9 of 38
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,818member
    Once again, I'm utterly outside the "norm" (ha).

    I live in poverty, but I have an iPad Pro (1st gen 12.9") and two iPhones (an iPhone 4, considered "obsolete" at this point, happily used as an iPod, and an iPhone 6s... probably considered obsolete very soon).

    I was poor when I got them. I don't spend money on anything but bills and groceries. Occasionally I get a tax refund and I put it toward an electronic device I need. At no point did I ever even consider buying the ridiculous iPhone X.

    No advanced degree either. It's so much more "fun" to be an intellectual when impoverished and unable to formally document any "professional" competency to a would be employer... :-p
    edited July 9 gatorguypte applecurtis hannahstanthemanviclauyycjony0
  • Reply 10 of 38
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,281member
     :D 

    Astounding! Who would have that owning a $1,000+ phone was an indicator of high income?

    Whoa—here’s a thought. I bet they would find that owning a BMW might have the same correlation. 
    Someone got paid to figure this out, i have been saying this for years. They should have paid me.

    IPhone users usually have a higher level of disposable income. However, the flip side of this metric having an iPhone does not mean you have disposable income. Some people have chosen to not spend money on other things so they can have an iPhone. I read that in India Soda other discretionary sales are down because people there are choosing not to buy other items so they can afford their data plans on their smart phones.

    That is no true with a BMW, owning a BMW is the gift that keeps giving. When I bought mine i was told to be prepare for the cost to repair, you may be able to afford the car payment, but those unexpected repair bills will kick you in the ass.
    viclauyyc
  • Reply 11 of 38
    This is really not what it is cracked out to be when you can actually make payments on your devices through whatever carrier you have now days, it makes these things more "affordable" to every age group making so they don't have the upfront cost. At $30-40 bucks a month, I am sure having one of these things is not an indicator of wealth like what they say. Also, I know more people with apple products that are not what is considered "high earners" than I do people with android products that would be considered "high earners." Does this make me an outlier? 
  • Reply 12 of 38
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
    The flip side is more true. Androids are poor. They choose a cheap phone only because they cannot afford iPhone. Everybody who buys Android should be shunned. They are all poor and miserable.
  • Reply 13 of 38
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,408member
    Funny. I remember the late 1950s and early 60s when a neighbor was the first in our subdivision to have a color TV. We all assumed they must be rich but if they were rich why were they living across the street from us. I once asked an elderly woman in our church, who was going on and on about the “rich” needing to pay more taxes so she could make ends meet, what she defined as being rich. She immediately replied $100K as she and her husband had never made over $50K. I just read an article that stated a salary of $100K in certain areas of the country (San Francisco for example) is almost a poverty level income in terms of housing and other cost of living expenses. 

    So it’s a perception issue and I can attest to the fact that almost everyone in my age group and social circles have iPhones and we’re not rich by most definitions of the term.
  • Reply 14 of 38
    lmaclmac Posts: 154member
    "According to the data, if the respondent said they owned an iPhone, this gave the researchers a 69.1 percent chance of determining the person had a "high income" and were in the top quartile for income. An iPad gave similar results with a 66.9 percent chance, while owning an Android smartphone was in fourth place at 59.5 percent."

    This suggests that a strong wealth indicator is "smartphone" in general. I guess there are still a lot of flip phone owners out there, but I don't know any.
  • Reply 15 of 38
    maestro64 said:
    I read that in India Soda other discretionary sales are down because people there are choosing not to buy other items so they can afford their data plans on their smart phones.
    This is NOT true. The data plans are very cheap in India. I get 1GB data/day, unlimited calls and 75 SMS/day all of them together for about $2.5 (Rs. 170) per month.
    anantksundaram
  • Reply 16 of 38
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,408member
    So will this survey be turned into a negative for Apple by the usual suspects?
  • Reply 17 of 38
    pte applepte apple Posts: 82member
    Under 65K gross, per year - I just live within means & decide what is necessary in life.
    iPhone X was paid for in 6 months.
    Current iPad mini is now paid for while all my past devices are resold thru Gazelle - get Amazon gift cards.
    My Apple Watch 1st gen was mostly paid for with an  Apple Store card i got when reselling my 2011 MBP for a SS 2014.
    Bet a good portion of Apple buyers are the working bees and their love for Apple Apple. 

  • Reply 18 of 38
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 712member
    I think they are absolutely correct.
    I personally think that’s really cool.
    Poor people should not have any privacy.
  • Reply 19 of 38
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,289member
     :D 

    Astounding! Who would have that owning a $1,000+ phone was an indicator of high income?

    Whoa—here’s a thought. I bet they would find that owning a BMW might have the same correlation. 
    I doubt the formulas is that simple. Apple's $1000 iPhone (for the US market) is it's most expensive model with the lowest storage capacity, but their ARP is much lower than that, their least expensive phone even lower, and the quality of the iPhone means that they tend to get sold or given away to others to use.

    Anecdotally I know a developer who bought the most expensive iPhone X at $1,150 who doesn't make a lot of money and know people with more money than they know what to do with that bought the 4.7" iPhone 8 this past year, and others with even more money that are still using iPhones that are much older.

    It seems obvious to me that the reason these people are buying an iPhone aren't because it's the most expensive, but because it's the best product available. For many this may be for status symbols reasons, but for most people I know the reason has to do with time v cost. And since Phones tend to last longer and have a much better resale value than some random Android-based device the TCO for an iPhone could easily be lower when again increases the overall value of the device.
  • Reply 20 of 38
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,290member
    lkrupp said:
    So will this survey be turned into a negative for Apple by the usual suspects?
    I think they are absolutely correct...
    Poor people should not have any privacy.
    There ya go...

    ;)
    edited July 9
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