That might not do it for the bank loan officer, but when it comes to fellow consumers, an iPhone (or an iPad) is the most reliable way to appear wealthy, according to a working paper by two University of Chicago economists.
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".
In the 2016 study, researchers were able to guess if a person belonged to a household with an income within the top quarter of the population, be it a single adult or two parents and dependents, simply by the subject's disclosure that they own a non-specific iPhone about 69 percent of the time.
According to the research conducted by the pair, there is no brand that is as predictive of a high income as Apple's iPhone, or at least it was back in 2016. You could tool around town in an expensive vehicle, wear some fancy duds, live in a giant mansion, or carry an Apple iPhone. Economists found that almost seven out of ten times, a person with an iPhone has a higher income than others. After all, iPhones were only introduced in 2007. In 1992, the top brand that revealed wealth among its users was Grey Poupon mustard, followed by Kodak film. In 2004, the second batch of data showed Land O' Lakes Regular butter was the clearest indication you were earning good money.
The iPhone is a luxury product that is usually priced higher than competing smartphones.
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Aside from products, the economists, whose findings were earlier reported on by Business Insider, found that if traveling in the USA, owning a passport, and having Bluetooth in your auto were also high on the list of high-income indicators. While some low-end Android phones retail for as little as $100 or less, Apple recently raised the price of its highest-end iPhone to $999 or more.
The researchers used information from Mediamark Research Intelligence, which had a sample size of 6,394.
The researchers also used a machine learning algorithm to look at how different groups have had their preferences diverge over time.
"This take-away runs against the popular narrative of the US becoming an increasingly divided society", the researchers wrote.