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How Do You Know If Someone is Rich? Ask If They Own an iPhone or iPad, Study Says


Owning an iPhone or iPad is the best indicator of wealth in the United States, according to a new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper by economists from the University of Chicago. In 1992, the strongest sign of a rich family was if they used Grey Poupon mustard, while in 2004, it was Land O’ Lakes butter and Kikkoman soy sauce. In 2016, it was owning an iPhone or iPad, a trend that will likely continue into the future with the iPhone X and the smartphone’s upcoming models.

If You Own An iPhone, You’re Likely Rich

“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.

The study utilized data from Mediamark Research Intelligence, with a sample size of 6,394 people. The data included bi-annual questionnaires and information obtained from face-to-face interviews such as household income.

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. Meanwhile, owning an iPad has a slightly lower success rate, at 66.9 percent.

For 2016, other significant indicators of wealth include subscribing to Verizon at 61 percent and owning a generic Android phone at 59.5 percent.