Good place to start is looking at what's considered a necessity and what's a luxury. The Pew Research Center asked that question to folks in all age groups, and while the results aren't a huge surprise, they do illustrate a society that's changing before our very eyes. For example, fewer than half of 18- to 29-year-olds say that a landline is a necessity of life, and fewer than three-in-10 say the same about a TV. For many of them, cell phones and Internet access work just as well. Most of the oldsters, by contrast, consider both to be a necessity. From the press release:
Indeed, the dichotomy posed by the question "luxury or necessity" may itself be something of a relic. For some items, a more appropriate question in 2010 may be whether consumers consider these venerable appliances to be "necessary" or "superfluous."
Charts are from the NYT.