What Americans Own

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.