Having something, like a car, can sometimes be a proxy for needing something — but not always; for example, nearly every American (98%) owns a television, but just 64% of adults consider it a necessity. Also, a Pew Social Trends survey finds, more than eight-in-ten (82%) have a satellite or cable television service, but just a third consider it a necessity.

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Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.