Buying Habits, Race, and Income
By Arnold Kling
Expenditures on footwear by whites and other races: $274
Expenditures on footwear by blacks: $440.
Chalk one up for the good Dr. Cosby.
Alex is defending Bill Cosby against an attack by a Washington Post financial columnist.
My guess is that Alex and many readers of this blog would be fascinated by this book, which uses “cluster analysis” to sort people into about 60 different consumer groups. I read the previous book, and I enjoyed it.
When I had my relocation web site, we approached Claritas, the company that produces the cluster analysis, about using their data. We eventually found it easier to deal with a competitor. The data is really fascinating. I remember doing a comprehensive search to find the product categories that seemed most correlated with income. If you have to pick a single consumer item to predict income, it would be hardback books. The zip codes that had the highest incomes also had the highest proportion of people who had purchased hardback books within the past year.
For the cost of an annual cable television subscription (which 90 percent of American families have), you could buy at least 10 hardback books a year. I buy more books than that, and I do not have cable TV. My guess is that many poor families make the opposite choice.