Americans who live in higher income households on the internet more than those with lower income.
People in higher-income households are different from other Americans in their tech ownership and use. Analysis of several recent surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Projects finds key differences between those who live in households making $75,000 or more relative to those in lower-income households.
Some 95% of Americans who live in households earning $75,000 or more a year use the internet at least occasionally, compared with 70% of those living in households earning less than $75,000. Even among those who use the internet, the well-off are more likely than those with less income to use technology. Of those 95% of higher-income internet users:
• 99% use the internet at home, compared with 93% of the internet users in lower brackets.
• 93% of higher-income home internet users have some type of broadband connection versus 85% of the internet users who live in households earning less than $75,000 per year. That translates into 87% of all those in live in those better-off households having broadband at home.
• 95% of higher-income households own some type of cell phone compared with 83% in households with less income.
Differences among income cohorts apply to other technology as well
The relatively well-to-do are also more likely than those in lesser-income households to own a variety of information and communications gear.
• 79% of those living in households earning $75,000 or more own desktop computers, compared with 55% of those living in less well-off homes;
• 79% of those living in higher-income households own laptops, compared with 47% of those living in less well-off homes.
• 70% of those living in higher-income households own iPods or other MP3 players, compared with 42% of those living in less well-off homes.
• 54% of those living in higher-income households own game consoles, compared with 41% of those living in less well-off homes.
• 12% of those living in higher-income households own e-book readers such as Kindles, compared with 3% of those living in less well-off homes.
• 9% of those living in higher-income households own tablet computers such as iPads, compared with 3% of those living in less well-off homes.
The findings in this report come from three surveys by the Pew Internet Project conducted in late 2009 and 2010. These surveys show that internet users in higher-income households are the most active participants in a range of online activities, when compared with those who have less income:
• 93% of higher-income users use email;
• 80% access news online;
• 71% pay bills online;
• 48% have used their cell to send or receive email;
• 88% conduct online product research;
• 37% have donated to charities online.
Internet users in higher-income households are more likely than others to go online multiple times a day, both at home and at work. Some 86% of internet users in higher-income households go online daily, compared with 54% in the lowest income bracket.
In many cases, the most noticeable difference in online engagement between various income groups relates to their intensity of use. On any given day, internet users in the higher-income bracket are more likely than those in lower-income brackets to be carrying out various online activities. Compared with internet users in other income cohorts, higher-income internet users go online more often compared with other groups: For instance, 55% are on the internet or are using email several times a day from home. Moreover, on any given day the more well-to-do internet users, are more likely get online news, conduct online research for a product or service, and go online to search for maps or directions.
Where better-off Americans get their news
Those who fall in the top earnings category are also the biggest consumers of online news sources, with 80% of higher-income internet users (74% of the general population) seeking news on the internet.
However, the higher-income households have not abandoned traditional media altogether; they also turn to print and television, especially for local news. Asked about various platforms where they might get the news on a typical day, 76% o those from higher-income households watch local and national news shows on television, 51% of this higher-income group said they get local news from a print version of a newspaper, and 22% read a print version of a newspaper for national news.Still, the online news consumption patterns of this more well-off group stand in stark contrast to those living in the lowest income households.
• 80% of online Americans in the higher income bracket get news on the internet, compared with 60% of the internet users earning less than $30,000 per year.
• 79% of the internet users in the higher earning bracket have visited a government website at the local, state or federal level versus 56% of those who fall into the lowest-income group.
• 61% in the higher bracket seek political news online, compared with 35% from the lowest-income bracket.
Engagement with online commerce by the higher-income households
Significantly more higher-income Americans are conducting e-commerce activities than members of other income groups.
Solid majorities of higher-income internet users research products (88%), make travel reservations online (83%), purchase products or services online (81%), perform online banking (74%), use the internet to pay bills (71%), and use online classified sites such as Craigslist (60%.)
There are other e-commerce activities for which less than a majority of higher-income Americans on the internet engage, but they still conduct these activities at significantly higher percentages than other income groups, including paying for online content, reviewing products, rating products, and participating on online auctions.
Via Pew Research