Nearly seven-in-ten Americans (68%) now view a microwave over as a necessity, more than double the number who said so 10 years ago. But microwaves are far from the only consumer products that have made a fast transition from luxury to necessity in the American mind. A recent Pew Research Center survey finds that as Americans navigate increasingly crowded lives, the number of things they say they can’t live without has multiplied in the past decade. Some of these goods, such as home computers, are relatively recent information-era innovations that have been rapidly transformed in the public’s eyes from luxury toward necessity. But other items — such as microwave ovens, dishwashers, air conditioning for the home and car, and clothes dryers — have been fixtures on the consumer landscape for far longer. For example, home air conditioning is now considered a necessity by seven-in-ten adults, up from half (51%) in 1996. And more than eight-in-ten (83%) now think of a clothes dryer as a necessity, up from six-in-ten (62%) who said the same a decade ago in a survey conducted by the Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University. Read More
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