Can poor people have HDTVs?
Poverty is in the news again: "US poverty on track to reach 46-year high" says a headline in The Washington Post.
And so is the topic of what constitutes poverty in the U.S. Just how bad is it? Muses a CNNMoney headline: "Are you poor if you have a flat-screen TV?" The article says:
For instance, some 62% of households earning less than $20,000 annually owned between two and four televisions, according to the 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Survey, conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy. That compares to 68% of those earning $120,000 or more.
About one-third of the lowest income households had either LCD or plasma TVs. Granted, that's less than half the share of the highest income group, but conservative researchers say it's a sign that the consumption gap is narrowing.
Liberals and conservatives can't seem to get enough of this debate, which got a big shot in the arm when the conservative Heritage Foundation released a study by Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield last year: Among its findings:
- 80% of poor families have air conditioning.
- 92% have a microwave.
- Almost two-thirds have cable or satellite TV.
- More than half of poor households with children have a video game system.
- Half of poor households have a computer and 43% have Internet access.
- A third have a plasma or LCD TV, and a quarter have a digital video recorder.
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