from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
An individual’s level of education and associated earnings significantly influence spending patterns. Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) data tables have shown average expenditures, income, and other consumer characteristics classified according to the education of the reference person. Beginning with the current CE data the education of reference person classification was replaced by the highest education level of any member in the consumer unit. The major reason for this change is that the highest level of education attained by any household member more accurately reflects income and spending patterns than does the education level of the reference person only.