You could tool around town in an expensive auto, wear some fancy duds, live in a giant mansion, or carry an Apple iPhone. According to the research, the iPhone is the most common status symbol of wealth...
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.
That's one of the takeaways from a new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper from University of Chicago economists Marianne Bertrand and Emir Kamenica.
There are caveats to the research, but the paper, which is based on data from 2016, explains that owning an iPhone gave researchers a 69 percent chance of correctly identifying someone as "high-income".
The researchers used data from Mediamark Research Intelligence, which provided a sample size of 6,394.
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With Android phone ownership and other technology-related entries being on the list too, the bigger takeaway is that technology truly plays a bigger part in people's lives in the U.S. more than any other product category now. Back then, the best brand to buy to portray wealth was Grey Poupon Dijon mustard.
The study runs biannually and tracks different products with regards to the perception of people's wealthiness with brands such as Samsung for televisions and Kikkoman soy sauce having also been included in past surveys.
The smartphone, in the modern world, is as much a necessity now as condiments in the early 1990s were, the data suggests.
In the United States, if you have an Apple iPhone or iPad, it's a strong sign that you make a lot of money.
The data is also a reminder of how much things have changed technologically over the years. Having a heated seat in your auto or using dishwasher detergent were also good wealth indicators. In 2004 (some three years before the launch of the smartphone), status symbols included owning your own auto or home computer.