When people are skeptical of assertions that living standards haven’t risen in recent decades, it’s partly because they own so much stuff that didn’t exist 20 years ago. A Harris Poll takes a useful inventory of the consumer-electronics items Americans have.
Nearly nine in 10 households have a DVD player that connects to a TV set (87 percent) and/or a desktop computer (86 percent). Other common items include a laptop computer (53 percent), a large-screen TV (35 percent), a high-definition TV set (35 percent), a portable DVD player that doesn’t go in a car (28 percent) and a DVD player permanently installed in a car (10 percent). Eleven percent have a Nintendo Wii system.
As you’d guess, some items are more ubiquitous in high-income households. But it’s striking to see how common many of them are in low-income homes. Among respondents with income under $35,000, 86 percent have a desktop computer, 35 percent a laptop, 16 percent a large-screen TV and 15 percent an HDTV set.