Your income, your lifestyle

Consumer spending is what drives the U.S. economy, and because of that, consumer behavior is studied more closely than almost any other field. Researchers look at what cars people buy at different income levels, what pets they own, and what they do with their time. Plus, the U.S. Census collects and breaks down American behavior by income as well. 

With that treasure trove of data, Marketplace's Wealth & Poverty Desk is embarking on a long-term project to chart what Americans' incomes say about their demographic outcomes. We're calling it 'Income Upshot', partly because we're telling these stories by inputting demographic and income data and outputting the upshot of that data in infographics, interactives and radio storytelling.

We'll begin our project with a series of reports around how income determines car and auto purchases. For instance, for families making poverty wages, Chevy is the most popular car brand. Those same families are most likely to buy small cars, such as the Chevy Sonic. Whereas for the median income family, Toyotas are the go-to cars, and they’re most likely to drive midsized cars, like a Toyota Camry. And finally, the most popular car for the richest of the rich is a Mercedes Benz.

And yet, 5 percent of people making over $500,000 a year drive Toyotas. (Do not underestimate the value of Prius piousness.)

Stay tuned for stories, visuals and interactives that explore what outcomes result from your income. 

About the author

Ethan Lindsey is the senior digital editor for Marketplace.
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