As the Economists Say "When Things Look Sketchy, Try Like the Dickens to Change the Subject!"
So, yes most U.S. households now have such "luxuries" as electricity, telephones and automobiles. But a car, for instance, is a necessity in the U.S. given the lack of any alternative transportation system. (Try getting around, say, Rochester by bus.) And the spread of electricity (can you recall the Rural Electrification Project) and road systems are government accomplishments. All that is beside the point, really.
And, yes some proportion of those in the lowest income groups are retirees who are spending down pensions or savings. Obviously, too, the smaller size of poor households is due to in part to the age of the family members (retirees typically have no kids living at home); but it is no doubt skewed by the prevalence of single parent households too, And the latter bring with them a whole host of economic pressures not offset by access to a microwave. S0 why not control for age in all this? Probably because we'd have to recognize massive inequalities in wealth as well as in income. Ooopps! Probably too because we'd learn that there are lots and lots of poor kids in the U.S. and that the families of those poor kids don't have property to sell or 401K reserves from which to buy groceries.
The bottom line is that massive inequalities do not become any less objectionable in rich countries. My question to these economists is the same as one I posed to some of their callous compatriots in this earlier post - even if we were to focus solely on the consumption differentials, would you change places with someone in the lowest quartile of the income distribution? If you are not willing to do so, perhaps you should take that as evidence that what you are peddling is bullshit. I do.