IPhone Is Most Common 'Status Symbol' of Wealth

Counting bills

WTF?! If for some reason you want people to think you're rich, you don't have to buy a Rolex or a Porsche, simply get yourself an iPhone.

Meanwhile, in terms of products, the best indicator of wealth in 2016 was traveling in the continental United States at 70.9 percent and owning a passport at 70.3 percent.

According to the paper, if someone owned an iPhone, there was a 69 percent chance they were "high-income", which was defined as "being in the top quartile of income for households of that type". The economists inferred demographics based on people's media consumption and consumer behavior and found that "no individual brand is as predictive of being high-income as owning an Apple iPhone". And it found that in 2016, the a year ago it analyzed, there was a 69.1% chance of accurately guessing that a person was wealthy if he or she owned an iPhone. For example, while in 1992 using Grey Poupon Dijon was 62.2% indicative of being high income, by 2016 that fanciest of mustards had been replaced by the iPhone. Even having an Android smartphone gave researchers a 59.5 percent chance of correctly predicting if someone had a healthy bank account, as did using Verizon (61 percent). In 2004, the top brands were a butter brand called Land O' Lakes Regular, Reynold Wrap aluminum foil, and Toshiba TV sets.

The paper also reveals iPhone owners are likely to give the impression of being educated.

The findings show a distinct difference in wealth indicators over the years.

Word to the wise, however: the monetary value of smartphones typically diminish quickly because phone makers, Apple included, have a rapid release cycle for new models. In 1992, the technology-related wealth predictors were owning a phone answering machine and an automatic dishwasher. In 2004 (some three years before the launch of the smartphone), status symbols included owning your own vehicle or home computer.

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