The Amazing Class Divide in Rug Expenditures

A model walks the runway wearing a Korhani rug during the Korhani Home Fashion Show in Berlin in March.

Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images.

Playing around a bit with the Consumer Expenditure Survey, I thought to look up the gap in spending between college graduates and folks without college degrees. On average, of course, more educated people earn more money and thus spend more on almost everything. But for what products is the ratio exceptionally high? Well these are the nine CES-defined items on which college graduates spend double or more what those without a bachelor’s degree spend:

I will confess that I don’t know what “household operations” are. Beyond that we see that fancy people like to travel (other lodgings, food prepared on out-of-town trips) and to transport themselves comfortably with high levels of spending on both cars and public transport. College graduates purchase economic security for themselves with pension spending. College graduates have a taste for relatively expensive entertainments—live theater, concerts—that have high status. They also drink fancier alcoholic beverages and thus have high levels of aggregate spending without necessarily getting twice as drunk.

And then there’s floor coverings.

Since my wife and I own zero rugs, we’re obviously atypical here. But apparently if you have fancy hardwood floors, the smart thing to do is cover them up with a really expensive rug. That’s not how we live, but so be it. The point is that in terms of concrete physical possessions you could buy in a store, the biggest class gap in America is about rugs.