Study Finds That Television May Have Pushed Americans Deeper Into Debt

It’s easy see how TV, jampacked with ads and broadcast to the average American for now four hours a day, would stimulate consumer activity.

A new study tests this theory by looking at debt levels in parts of America that had early access to TV back in the 40’s (via @alea_). Hunter College’s Matthew J. Baker and Lisa M. George found that these areas were more likely to incur debt for durable goods:

Households in markets with access to television are 3.2 percentage points more likely to have borrowed to purchase durable goods… Individuals with television access have $9.70 more debt for durable goods than households without television access. With average durable goods debt approximately $50, the effect of television is substantial.

Nationwide the rise of TV would coincide with the rise of debt. Here’s a provocative chart:


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