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Whoa: TV consumption, by Income. HT @CharlesFLehman
222 replies and sub-replies as of Apr 18 2019

"On the average day, about how many hours do you personally watch television?"…
Social media is a form of 'tv' and probably follows a similar trend. Regardless, does the above graph imply that tv costs (1%*30k/365hrs =) $1/hr at a 1% real interest rate?
Zero, except for tornado season. Watch if we’re under a ‘warning’.
How did they define television? Broadcast TV only or did they include streaming?
Very little because for the most part the shows are terrible!
Maybe an hour, usually while on treadmill
Big stats faux pas to use binning (by income) to demonstrate correlation, but yeah this is real.
The only income variables in the GSS are categorical.
I agree, not loving the linear trendline, especially considering the biggest driver of the slope are the sub 20ks (but maybe that's the story). Much more modest relationship for everybody about 50k. But good find!
polynomial trend line, just for grins:
Wonder what it would look like if you counted "screen time", i.e. TV + computer/laptop. Adults in my high-income household are right in line with the 2 hour average for TV, but "we" (me, at least) spend a significant amount of additional time on a computer.
Also- my 12yo spends almost zero time watching TV programming. When he's using the TV it's to play Xbox. He spends as much if not more time watching videos on YouTube, either on his phone or on a laptop.
My 18 yr old was *shocked* when we were at a hotel and thus had only Cable TV (we don't at home) and he saw that Pharma ads are legal in the US. He was full-on aghast.
I wonder how much drug prices would decline if drug ads were banned
and smartphones.
Hoo baby let's extend that x-axis a bit and see how TV-obsessed billionaires are.
That's better! Now if you can just base the y-axis properly at zero, the truth will finally be revealed...
To be fair, it's more of a 😏 than a 🙂. 😉
It’s called programming for a reason...
Does this just correlate with age? Making an assumption income increases based on age.
Good Q! But I looked at different slices by age, and the trend persists for 25-34 year-olds, working-age, and over 45s
Any idea how it looks for men vs. women?
That seems about right for my family.
(now with a minor correction to the x-axis!)
Isn't that the y-axis?
It'd probably be more valid to show it by effective wage than outright income. Ideally you'd want to control for unemployment and thats probably the easiest way
And single or dual income
Hi outlier, this nails me perfectly.
Observed or self-reported? Wealthy people more embarrassed by tv consumption and more likely to underreport?
TV is also one of the cheapest entertainment choices. As your income goes up you can afford nicer options.
We are in the upper income level and we enjoy TV.
These are trends by age, There are exceptions and outliers in every group.
So among the affluent no one watching something called Game of Thrones? (I never watched a second, but watch some news)
GoT takes one hour a week. This is daily use. You can see a lot of TV in 7 hours per week. 3 hour long dramas and 8 sitcom episodes, for instance.
I'm definitely an outlier for my income bracket. I turn on my TV/or watch at a bar or friend's house maybe twice a week to watch a sporting event. There's no way I could watch 16 hours of TV a week.
I am exactly where I should be.
It’s nonlinear at the lower range. Probably quadratic instead of linear relationship.
Now do hours worked. I wonder if it’s the inverse.
Does this count traditional TV watching only? Or also things like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc.?
What’s a TV?
How were these metrics done? Is streaming considered ? Broadcast tv is pretty much over ..
One reason for this is that if you make more money, you can afford to spend it on other things that take up your time. Sad fact is, it costs money to be social.
Is that per week or day?
I don’t know but from the scale I’d guess per day.
Got rid of TV 6 years ago---didn't really watch it before then. No regrets. I'd rather think than be told what to think. It's pretty much all trash. Time wasting trash.
per day or per week?
Ha. Now do streaming.
What is TV here? Is watching a show on Hulu on my iPad TV? Is youtubetv on my laptop?
I call bullshit on this one.
That line is a little too straight
I call bullshit also lol.
Happy to send you my code!
Does it spike back up as income increases over 170,000? I know it’s only anecdotal but I know a lot of rich people and they all watch a lot of television.
The GSS income16 variable is categorical and maxes out at 170K
I’m goin to pretend I know what you mean and just nod thoughtfully. 🤔
They don't ask the people they survey "how much does your family make?" and report a number. They ask people to check a box next to a number closest to the one they have. The biggest option is 170K.
They actually do! Variable realinc (inflation-adjusted).
I thought that was just quartiles?
Might be top-coded or something but I'm pretty sure it's actual dollar amounts.
ha! I had just glanced at the GSS explorer page and assumed it wasn't because of the labels. Useful!
I'm guessing a lot of what you're seeing there is a labor-force rather than purely class effect. People without jobs, or who don't work many hours, make less money and also have much more time to fill with TV.
I would think so too, per Eberstadt. But this is the chart when I restrict it only to respondents who report being employed men:
(also, just for interest's sake, realinc does appear to be right-censored I think)
Yeah, that's almost always done for privacy reasons (NLSY too). In your other chart it looks like the top end comes *way* down, even if there's still a pattern.
I have actual work to do but at some point today I'm going to try to run a quickie model controlling for household type, labor force status, etc.
Yeah, no, lower employment/LFP rates clearly a part of it.
Oh wow, I actually got the income effect to disappear entirely. Hard to interpret because I had to add numbers before logging to avoid trying to log 0s for both the TV and income variables though.
Basically: Less educated, black, less labor force participation = more TV. I have another one controlling for HH type (married w kids etc.) but none of the differences are significant and the effects all look small.
Slightly better: Cleans out an NA code I missed in TVHOURS and puts the full model side-by-side with a model that's just income vs. TV.
Something else I didn't know: realinc has the appearance of being actual dollar amounts but it's reverse-engineered from the categories.…
So, less educated, less work = More TV
This is a little better but basically yeah. Also black, and to a small extent male go with more TV.
Slightly better: Cleans out an NA code I missed in TVHOURS and puts the full model side-by-side with a model that's just income vs. TV.
The age pattern seems to be basically just upward, via visreg.
I will speculate those who work less and are less educated are also more prone to feel disenfranchised. People who feel disenfranchised are less likely to socialize, venture outside, or interact with other people. TV watching becomes a safe space.
And how is TV defined? I watch scripted shows online about 17 hours per week. Amazon, Hulu, and via offshore viewing sites.
is it available? would love to see it. Also, consider doing the same for youtube\media consumption in general.
What counts as "TV"? So many in my econ/age/education bubble don't own a "television" but spend full days binging Netflix, Hulu, etc.
Just suspicious this might accidentally reveal which type of screen people are likely to be able to afford.
I agree. Would love to see a graph with cable use vs streaming vs mobile phone usage
screen usage in my household has an inverse relationship to screen size, no matter the programming content, my kids watch Hulu on Iphones & my 60inch TV is mostly a dust collector
Now show happiness by income.
Is it "consumption" if I just leave it on in the background to drown out my loneliness and despair? 🤔
Depends on your income
It’s just crying out for a logistic function
do you mean log function?
Nope. Looks more like an S-curve to me
Trump must make like no dollars
Assuming this doesn’t account for *screen time* in general? I’m
I don't watch ANY TV! Why am I not fabulously wealthy? RIPOFF!
What's the R^2 on that?
0-30k are sky-high because a bulk of those are part time workers with more time available.
But also when you look at the income scale. As people make more they spend more time self improving or working in more ways. If low income people spent this time making themselves better and not watching the latest TV garbage. They would increase their social and income standing
Now do Arugula consumption
I’m wayyyy outside the graph on that
Trump watches TV all day and he's supposedly a billionaire.
Cheapest form of entertainment.
My brother, a retiree, turns on his TV when he gets up in the morning and leaves it on all day. The sound is a low drone, and it is just a background "thing", like a clock. He is usually out in a garage (with a TV) working on his cars.
I couldn't be less surprised by this graph.
Is this per week or month?
We don’t have time for that ....(except Yankee games)
Now, do iPhone usage, please.
Good point. Pretty irrelevant without smart phone usage. Should do a "Media Consumption" graph with phones / social media.
It's hardly irrelevant, TV is such a different thing than streaming.
How is me sitting on Netflix for 10 hours watching the office different from me watching it Comedy Central for 10 hours?
1. You're paying directly, which means 2. Far less if any ads, which means 3. Less garbage. Also because of social media and other some-like platforms (Discord, Steam) you're reachable, which means you're one tiny bit closer to social interaction. IMs are easier than phonecalls
You haven’t heard of text messaging?
What a great way to phrase a question. Yes. I have heard of SMS. As someone who's grown up to witness both smart phones and the internet grow up, I've always found it easier to answer to IMs on Discord than to SMS on my phone.
Plus the obligatory "SMS costs more than WiFi IMs"
Confouding factor: intelligence.
That is the exact opposite of the SAT score vs income chart. Surprise, surprise.
Yes, Whoa. Because it's so 'meaningful' right? Not sure what, if anything, this adds understanding to. In and of itself-it's nothing.
CUZ WE AT WORK and aint got time for that
I feel this ties in closely w/ the minimum wage/living wage discussions. #anxiouslyengaged #notimetowaste
TV is the cheapest form of entertainment in existence. In terms of money, time, and energy. Nothing else comes close. It makes total sense that as wealth goes up TV goes down. I would expect to see similar results with fast food.
I would imagine a $3 deck of cards is cheaper than any tv and requires no electricity.
Energy man, energy. When you are dog tired/stressed out solitaire requires a lot more work than bingeing My Little Pony on Netflix.
If someone making between $0-$10,000 is "dog tired" they need a new occupation...
A wooden hoop and a stick, a clothespin doll, a homemade catapult, or the corpse of a dead rat would also be cheaper if only we had a time machine to take us back to the times of Little House on the Prairie.
Did someone say stick? I'm in!!!😀
Wrong, successful people work hard, and when they aren't working, they are getting smarter by reading, absorbing information
Who says that? The productivity material I have ever seen written about highly successful people shows that while successful people do study on a regular basis they also keep their work hours in check and make time for leisure. Leisure appears to be essential to being successful
Find "time", but not a lot of time.
Exactly my thought. Seems like increased income brings with it increased means and opportunities for and exposure to other activities (and, to your point, cuisine).
Yup, TV consumption is more likely a result of wealth than a driver. Easy to infer some causation when we only have correlation.
Actually people who are wealthy as a whole eat fadt food slightly more than people who are less financially stable.
twitter is no more expensive IMO
I guess you're not familiar with radio. It's new.
Conversely, reading non-fiction (to gain knowledge) has a very high correlation with higher income levels. Watching more TV/playing video games/facebooking tells us more about the priorities, rather than affordability
Affordablity encompasses more than just money. The less mental energy you end the day with the fewer activities are going to qualify as liesure. Mentally drained people aren't reading Road to Sefrdom, and probably wouldn't get much out of it if they did.
I, too, gained my understanding of the labor market from The Sims.
It's pretty simple to figure out as to why...if you have money then, you've got something else to do. Whether it's "work" or other extracurricular activities it's all about making money or spending it. If you're poor then you're more likely to do neither. Thus, TV time.
My income should be much higher for the amount of tv I watch.
To be fair, this statistic doesn’t account for the many hours high earners spend in their vaults swimming in piles of gold coins and cash.
From personal experience I spend 3 hours a day doing this. Hell of a workout
There is almost certainly a commensurate, or at least partially offsetting, increase in the use of other electricity media or more costly but equally sedentary entertainment that goes in the other direction.
"electricity media," whoops.
Not sure why this is surprising, or why everyone is making the “wHaT aBoUt ToTaL sCrEeNtImE” excuse. Increasingly, quality outdoor leisure activities are becoming more expensive. Broadcast TV is still free, and most people have at least basic cable.
Rich people make their own TV shows.
So the new target audience is now the illegal immigrants and the welfare state, nice, lol.
I completely agree with this. I always say to myself "what are the majority of people doing at home in the free time?" Then I do the opposite.
I think this has a lot to do with age also.
When you're poor, there's little else to do besides watch television.
Since this says I average an hour, I'm guessing the y-axis is Average # of Hours (per hour)
Poor people cant travel. Lots of factors involved here
This might explain virtually everything?
Could just be the TV is affordable entertainment but interesting none the less
Well duh, when you have more money, you have more options to occupy your time. They should study reading also. I'd like to know if the lower incomes read more than the wealthy.
This is not shocking. When you are poor you stay home and watch TV. When you have money you go out and do things.
Would love to see chart of hours per day of "media"... including your phone and computer viewing into this
Who has time for TV? I'm working, making money and paying taxes to pay for the person's cable on the left side of the chart. It was appropriate the chart was setup that way too.
Poor people don't have the money for other entertainment. They can't afford theater, sport tickets, citytrips or traveling. So they watch tv to see the world.
People who don’t/won’t work a full time job and collect taxpayer benefits have more time to watch TV. Got it.
I’d love to see a graph of $ disposable income vs Free time
When you’re broke, you can’t do much else
Where am I on this graph? Zero income and no television? Exceptions that prove the rule.
Less than 2 hours. Maybe there is a reason for disparate economic outcomes.
Could these numbers be skewed by retired/semi retired people?
Just to lend another datapoint to @coldxman's latest [excellent] article (…), net of sex, age and educational attainment, controlling for daily tv consumption cuts the black-white income gap by an additional 1/3 (-$3172--> $-2112)
Can you compare by race while keeping income the same?
When I’m back at the computer. IIRC, blacks watch more TV at every income category (though high income blacks still consume less TV than low income blacks)
Similar findings for porn…
You made me do it. And now I don't know what to make of this (perhaps Blacks are more open/honest about their sexuality?)
Why the surprise? It's all about options. The richer you are the more options you have.
If I could only get off this darn Twitter
Do people who sit around watching tv all day don’t make much money bc they are watching tv and not working. Makes sense. The democrats will say the government just needs to pay people to watch tv, problem solved.
Hence why Lamborghini, Ferrari, and other brands of cars don't have TV ads. Name the last time you saw an ad for a yacht.
Rich people seek out luxury on their own, so it makes sense
Watch Golf. Audi/Lexus/Audi/Lexus/Lexus/Audi.
sold under 10,000 cars last year. The US auto market is 17 million/year.
I mean if you are rich you can afford to entertain yourself in different ways i.e. traveling vs watching TV so its really a no brainer.
Shocking... NOT
Media consumption would've been better than just "TV". That would encompass smartphones, computers, tablets, etc. A lot of people nowadays stream shows/movies on their phone or tablet. This chart is far too basic and would only work up to 2005.
But if you're going to use that chart then it seems most of us (middle class) fit in the 2-3 hr bracket. Also the difference from 30K to 110K is only an hour.
Two hours a day, either football or educational, so you don’t ruin your appreciation of the finer things.
So your telling me people without jobs watch a lot of TV. Never should have guessed.
is it actually a surprise? despite what bernie says, jobs that earn $100k+ actually require alot of work and/or travel
This is fascinating. Any results for the amount of reading based on income? What about smartphone usage or social media?
As a mathematician, I fully disagree with your choice to use linear regression when it looks much more like an expoential function.
Doesn’t this same graph also equate intelligence & college education as well?
Think we’ve got an “omitted variable bias” over here...
Further proof Trump isn't rich.
So, serious question: when you extend out the x-axis to the point of millionaires, does it tick upward again? I tend to think of the low-end six figure incomes being the longest hours, work-wise.
I'm guessing income is probably correlated with hours worked, so I'd be more interested in seeing TV time as a percentage of non-working time.
My guess is that this is flawed by under-reporting by higher income not wanting to be TV shamed. Do a study that by income asks if TV is beneficial or detrimental then get back to me
Per week? Per day?
Would be interesting to see podcast consumption vs. Income relationship.
Clearly some people have a high preference for watching TV, so they trade that off for working less and therefore having a higher income. /s
Why doesn't the Y-axis say "... Per day"
Good thing I just stare at my phone all day. I’m gonna be a billionaire.
My income does not reflect my tv consumption. 🤔
Statistically speaking, that is one horrible line fit for that graph. This is so much a curve. Also that's logical. Poor people can't afford luxury spa's, and go for cheap TV instead.
Would be interested to see the same chart for phone and computer usage (specifically for entertainment purposes). Have a feeling it could be flipped.
There's no 0 on the y-axis. My TV watching is off the *bottom* of the chart. Zero (0).
I believe it, probably inverse for @netflix / on demand streaming.
Woo hoo! I'm an outlier! Bring me a bigger TV, Jeeves!
Zero surprise on this one. Graph could also apply to bus ridership and fast food consumption, I bet.
So one could say mainstream media (Fox, CNN, NBC, etc) panders to the lower income people...?
Position on the x-axis doesn’t seem to linearly correspond to income: interval on the left hand side is $10k, interval on right hand side is $20k. Though the qualitative conclusion would still hold
What's GSS? Is this observed or self-reported? Because it seems mighty suspicious. At the very least, the notion that well off men don't watch tons of sports doesn't seem likely.