The Necessities of Life

The Pew Foundation does fascinating (to me at least) public opinion surveys.  I ran across the results from a survey on necessities versus luxuries – which only includes, unfortunately, a few household appliances and electronics.  Oddly to me, the percentage of people who view a car as a necessity dropped from 93% to 91% from 1996 to 2006.

Out in the country, a simpler life: Rural residents are less likely than those who live either in the city or the suburbs to view these 14 items as necessities. Of people living in rural areas, fully a third say just 0 to 5 of these items are necessities, compared with 23% of those in cities and 24% of those in suburbs. This difference holds even after controlling for income and internet use.

Here’s the list, in order of perceived necessity:

Clothes washer
Clothes dryer
Home air conditioning
TV set
Car air conditioning
Home computer
Cell phone*
Cable or satellite TV
High-speed internet*
Flat screen TV*

We don’t have cable or satellite, a flat screen TV, or an iPod.  We rarely use our clothes dryer, air conditioning, microwave, dishwasher, and cell phones.  I could live without everything else except the car, computer, and high-speed internet, although a washer comes close to essential.

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