Progress

by Russ Roberts on October 25, 2007

in Standard of Living

In 1970, according to the American Housing Survey (from HUD and the Department of Commerce ,then called the Annual Housing Survey, Table A-1, p. 32), 36% of the 67 million households in America had air conditioning, 11% had central air. This is the earliest data available from this survey.

In 2005, the most recent data from the same survey, (Table 2-4, p. 66) 82% of the 15 million households with income below the poverty line had air conditioning, 52% had central air.

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{ 43 comments }

Rob Dawg October 25, 2007 at 4:22 pm

Substitution and geography Professor. My c1962 house in Southern California doesn't have central air or heat. Still doesn't. The houses that have been built since generally need central HVAC. My house is far more pleasant than those recent structures despite the Census showing those recent constructions as having more ammenities. Then there is the issue of the fraction of housing occupied by those in poverty and their lifestyle choices as well.

Is it progress to be more energy dependent just to live?

anon. October 25, 2007 at 4:48 pm

"Is it progress to be more energy dependent just to live?"

I feel the same way about refrigerators. My igloo didn't have one when it was built. Still doesn't. But some people feel like they just have to live in places where electricity-consuming refrigerators are the only way to keep blubber from spoiling. And we call this progress?!

Brad October 25, 2007 at 5:24 pm

The poor have had 32 years to save their pennies to buy air conditioning. Next, your gonna tell us that in 1975, the poor didn't have cell phones and now they do. Hell, the poor can get anything they dream of if they save for 32 years.

Badger October 25, 2007 at 5:33 pm

The definition of poverty in this country has become a joke.

JO October 25, 2007 at 8:56 pm

Kind of missing the point, aren't you all? Point being not that there are no more poor people (always a relative concept) but that the quality of life for the poor has improved. I'm not sure why that is so hard to accept; shouldn't one committed to poverty reduction celebrate that? Moreover, and I suspect this excludes the previous commenters. but anyone who has ever lived in the American south can appreciate the significant impact AC has on quality of life.

G October 25, 2007 at 9:08 pm

The poor have access to things nearly as good as the rich get – at least in areas of the economy where the market is free (or close to it). I do feel sorry for them when it comes to health care and education.

Rob, air conditioners have also gotten much more efficient, and housing insulation much better as well. Of course, the only thing that will really drive improvement here is higher energy prices.

K October 25, 2007 at 11:54 pm

Obviously a lot of rich people with TVs, AC, etc. fall into poverty and bring their goodies with them. It distorts the statistics.

The rate may be increasing.

Actually, AC is a bad measurement. As someone pointed out dramatic improvements in AC – the heat pump – made it attractive for the lowest cost new homes.

Those new homes became old homes where those below the poverty line now live. Many rent and no more own AC than they own the fire hydrants. (a little beside the point, they do have air conditioning)

muirgeo October 26, 2007 at 12:42 am

Inner city blacks have a 50% high school graduation rate, a 70% illegitimacy rate, arising suicide rate, quadruple the average teen pregnancy rate, 5 times the average rate for drug abuse, 100 times the rate for being murdered and 20 times the odds of being incarcerated….but yeah buddy they have AC!!!!!!

G October 26, 2007 at 1:00 am

What is your point, muirgeo? The ability for the market to supply affordable AC to the masses is impressive, and the failure of government-run systems of education and justice are astounding and tragic, but I don't think thats on-topic here.

Although… ever live in Miami? If I lived there and had the choice of having AC and getting shot at versus not having AC at all, I just might choose to get shot at.

Chris October 26, 2007 at 1:51 am

muirgeo –

Clearly, the poor have problems. But, I suspect that any poor person anywhere in the world, at any previous time, would jump at the chance to be poor in the US today.

Across all classes, the standard of living of a person in the US has improved dramatically over the past 30 years.

So, why are "inner city blacks" deciding to quit school, have children out of wedlock, do drugs and commit crimes? It strikes me that they may be poor because they decide to do those things, not vice-versa.

ben October 26, 2007 at 5:15 am

Yes yes, Muirgeo, but statistics like this undermines the suggestion, endlessly repeated by the Left, that people living in poverty are unable to obtain necessities.

Lee Kelly October 26, 2007 at 7:44 am

Inner city blacks have a 50% high school graduation rate, a 70% illegitimacy rate, a rising suicide rate, quadruple the average teen pregnancy rate, 5 times the average rate for drug abuse, 100 times the rate for being murdered and 20 times the odds of being incarcerated. -muirgeo

I suggest Thomas Sowell's excellent Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality, where it is argued that most of the problems facing inner-city black communities were exacerbated by the many public policies which intended to solve them, and that the problems were already getting better before these policies were implemented.

I should also note that seeing injustice in statistics misses an important ethical distinction. Namely, the statistics given do not apply equally to each inner-city black, and presenting like this fails to distinguish between the different attitudes and choices of individuals.

I suspect these attitudes and choices are far more influential to the probability of being murdered or dropping out of highschool, than skin colour or location ever are. If we want to encourage more responsible choices, perhaps we could make a start by not blaming "society" for the statistics you cite.

Regards,
Lee

muirgeo October 26, 2007 at 9:05 am

Fellas, I used to vote straight republican. I'm a pediatrician and started my career with a severe disdain for the so-called welfare mom's. I always felt sorry for their kids though and through time realized that they were one and the same. These same poor little kids being born to such poor parents eventually became the parents. The cycle of poverty is real and had any one of you been artificially implanted into the wombs of such a mother your genetics would likely do little to break you free from the disadvantaged situation you were born into.

In the pediatric literature it is clear how significant the in utero environment and the first 3 years of life are to the potential outcomes of a child. If we're to consider ourselves a civilized society at some point we have to stop making %^& & )*^& (sorry very passionate about this) excuses for why some one needs to make $500,000,000 a year or have multiple billions of dollars while proven programs like Headstart are lacking in funding because ideological purist debate their value. Yes government programs can do harm but properly funded and set up they can do good. When the debate is constantly over weather to fund them as opposed to how to make them efficient they never work. I've lived in the inner city with these people and AC is not much redemption for the dreary outlook their lives give them. Both the idea that free markets will improve their lot or that we can't do anything to help are simply unabashed boloney.

Mathieu Bédard October 26, 2007 at 9:28 am

So what would be a good definition of the 'poverty line'? Some sort of basket of goods?

Rob Dawg October 26, 2007 at 9:35 am

Yes government programs can do harm but properly funded and set up they can do good.

And how, dear sir, do you propose to bell the cat?

Steve October 26, 2007 at 10:02 am

I'm not a regular reader of this blog so I don't know if the following has already been discussed. My question: Is this muirgeo fellow a sock puppet for either Mr. Roberts or Mr. Boudreaux (or both) set up to play devil's advocate for the purpose of stimulating debate? That would explain a lot.

Methinks October 26, 2007 at 10:43 am

Inner city blacks have a 50% high school graduation rate, a 70% illegitimacy rate, arising suicide rate, quadruple the average teen pregnancy rate, 5 times the average rate for drug abuse, 100 times the rate for being murdered and 20 times the odds of being incarcerated….but yeah buddy they have AC!!!!!!

So, the bad behaviours of these people lead to failure and they don't actually earn a/c's but they get them anyway thanks to productive members of society who engage in behaviours that lead to success. What are you bitching about?

Oh, I forgot…you don't know what you're bitching about because thinking is not your strong point.

So, I don't actually expect you to understand this about the cycle of poverty: The welfare programs themselves trap people in poverty. In part this is due to the fact that government corrals welfare dependents into public housing where bad behaviours are concentrated. The government proceeds to treat welfare recipients like dependent children with payments in kind. Because of this, the poor are unable to make basic decisions for themselves and are often overcome by a sense of helplessness. If we adopted a negative tax system, huge portions of government can just be eradicated and the poor would just get cash to spend instead of being led around by the nose by the half-wits who work in government. The standard response to such an idea is that the poor might somehow misspend the money (and government never does). The implication is that these snobby twats think they are far more competent at deciding for poor people than they are and they would like control over their lives. Actually helping the poor get out of poverty is simply not on the agenda.

The people who have the most disdain for the poor are those in government who rely on promises to pick the pockets of the successful on behalf of those whom they define as unable to live without their beneficence to win elections. Poverty is a government created industry.

disdain for the so-called welfare mom's

Nice to see that a self-proclaimed "pediatrician" cant differentiate between possessive and plural. Nor do you seem to know the difference between "weather" and "whether". How does someone who is barely literate pass the MCAT? Admit it, you're a hospital orderly.

scott clark October 26, 2007 at 11:51 am

I agree with muirgeo that there must be something to this "cycle of poverty".
I think I saw on the history channel that the archaeological record shows that it took something like 30,000 years for human ancestors to go from a crude hand ax to a half-way decent spear. Cycle of poverty, indeed.
Poverty is the natural state of mankind, and it takes the real, honest hardwork and discipline of billions of people cooperating (best accomplished through what we call the market) to lift people out of that natural state. There are no shortcuts. Taking from the haves and giving to the have-nots, the government's forte, only impedes progess, by destroying valuable signals and incentives to work together, to cooperate, to help yourself by helping others. Voluntary charitable acts can be effective; these acts have aligned incentives, and they send the right signals, government fiat has incentives working at cross-purposes and it sends the wrong signals.

But Russ's post is more about the myriad ways in which we lift ourselves out of poverty, the unseen and unsung wonders of cooperating with billions of remote, detached strangers.

Steve October 26, 2007 at 12:37 pm

Don't be too hard on muirgeo. While I rarely if ever agree, I think he's called BS on a couple of facts before and been right.

Russ Roberts October 26, 2007 at 1:34 pm

Muirgeo and Muirgeo's critics,

My guess is that the comments work best when they stick to the post at hand, not the virtues or drawbacks of Head Start. My original post was simply to make an observation about some modest progress among poor people in staying cool. It doesn't prove anything, though it is part of a general picture I would like to present over a series of posts about the transformation of the American standard of living.

I've noticed a recent trend in these comments toward guessing fellow commenters' professions or demanding that they reveal details about themselves.

These kind of details (along with spelling mistakes) are not relevant for assessing or responding to the quality of the ideas or arguments being presented.

Let's try and keep it calm and thoughtful. If you find a comment that is beneath contempt, just leave it lie.

LowcountryJoe October 26, 2007 at 1:56 pm

I've noticed a recent trend in these comments toward guessing fellow commenters' professions or demanding that they reveal details about themselves.

These kind of details (along with spelling mistakes) are not relevant for assessing or responding to the quality of the ideas or arguments being presented.

This wouldn't be happening if you could keep your sock puppet(s) focused and in line!

[/sarcasm]

John Pertz October 26, 2007 at 3:57 pm

Muriego said:

"Inner city blacks have a 50% high school graduation rate, a 70% illegitimacy rate, arising suicide rate, quadruple the average teen pregnancy rate, 5 times the average rate for drug abuse, 100 times the rate for being murdered and 20 times the odds of being incarcerated….but yeah buddy they have AC!!!!!!"

You have just devised the greatest defense of capitalism that I have ever read. Those people despite all of their problems still have AC. It is surreal that so many people without even a tiny morsel of education are still able to enjoy A/C. Goods and services that are sold in a free market show a remarkable tendency to come down in price and improve in quality, allowing even the most ignorant of humans a level of material well being that NO other social system could ever contrive. That is the essence of free market capitalism. BRILLIANT MURIEGO, SIMPLY BRILLIANT. POST OF THE YEAR.

vidyohs October 26, 2007 at 4:52 pm

That's okay guys, in reference to "you know who", sock puppet and village idiot are postions not professions.

Marcus October 27, 2007 at 12:21 pm

Russ,

In chastising Muirgeo's critics I think you miss a deeper more fundamental issue as revealed in this comment section.

Your blog post illustrates that as market efficiency continues to improve air-conditioning becomes more and more affordable to the point that it is now within the reach of poor people. Poor people voting with their own dollars and of their own freewill have decided that this luxury is important to them.

But that isn't part of the modern liberal plan: poor people making decisions for themselves. Muirgeo and his fellow liberals have already decided for them what they are suppose to want. Hence the dismissal of this obvious improvement in the lives of the poor.

This reveals that fundamentally, after you cut through all of the rhetoric, modern liberals aren't actually interested in helping poor people they are simply interested in control.

Marcus October 27, 2007 at 12:21 pm

Russ,

In chastising Muirgeo's critics I think you miss a deeper more fundamental issue as revealed in this comment section.

Your blog post illustrates that as market efficiency continues to improve air-conditioning becomes more and more affordable to the point that it is now within the reach of poor people. Poor people voting with their own dollars and of their own freewill have decided that this luxury is important to them.

But that isn't part of the modern liberal plan: poor people making decisions for themselves. Muirgeo and his fellow liberals have already decided for them what they are suppose to want. Hence the dismissal of this obvious improvement in the lives of the poor.

This reveals that fundamentally, after you cut through all of the rhetoric, modern liberals aren't actually interested in helping poor people they are simply interested in control.

brotio October 28, 2007 at 2:30 am

Bravo, Marcus!

John Dewey October 28, 2007 at 7:47 am

marcus: "modern liberals aren't actually interested in helping poor people they are simply interested in control."

I'm not sure I agree totally. Modern liberals I've talked with seem to genuinely believe they are helping poor people. They seem to believe poor people are incapable of making good decisions. In fact, they seem to believe that all people other than the liberal intelligentsia are incapable of making good decisions. That's why they fear public school vouchers.

Yes, they want to control. But I think they truly believe that controlling or eliminating the decisions of others will bring the best possible world to those whose minds they would enslave.

True_Liberal October 28, 2007 at 10:18 am

Whether you agree or disagree on the "poor w/ AC" issue -

I submit that air conditioning has enabled a huge burden on the American people – because before AC, DC (Washington) was unlivable for 4-5 months every year – a swamp essentially. Politicians left down until saner weather returned in the Fall. Even FDR took off for Campobello Island to escape the heat and mosquitos.

And the growth of our Nation's capital into thousands of acres of limestone, marble, granite, and concrete has directly followed the arrival of central air.

Thus I second anon's sentiments (Oct 25, 2007 4:48:41 PM)

muirgeo October 28, 2007 at 11:13 am

This reveals that fundamentally, after you cut through all of the rhetoric, modern liberals aren't actually interested in helping poor people they are simply interested in control.

Posted by: Marcus

Yes, they want to control. But I think they truly believe that controlling or eliminating the decisions of others will bring the best possible world to those whose minds they would enslave.

Posted by: John Dewey

I know you feel like you're making good points turning the issue from offering helping hand to one of a controlling hand but the facts of history are so decidedly against you its mere child play to totally bash your lame accusations of what liberals want with the reality of what their actions have provided.

Pre-Teddy Roosevelt and before the New Deal the poor and elderly in this country DIED of starvation, heat and cold. They were far greater in numbers as well. Likewise the middle class was hard to find. FDR and LBJ's programs have markedly reduced these issues, reduced the number of poor and actually allowed them to afford an AC in conjunction with market forces. It was NOT a free market that got them out of their squalor and out of the heat and saved many elderly from freezing but a properly regulated market that worked so well.

The presumption that if we just deregulated and rolled back all these safety nets for the poor and elderly THEN their lot would improve is based on pound of greed, a tablespoon of selfishness and a good heaping dose of a flawed ideology with a pinch of ignorance and a dollop of asininity thrown in as well. A recipe for disaster if you will.

vidyohs October 28, 2007 at 12:57 pm

As usual muirduck,
You play the village idiot so well.

This is absolute bull crap, and you know it, but that doesn't prevent you from trying to run this BS into a conversation of your betters. You can't even name your presidents correctly, but then 14 year old girls probably haven't taken American history yet…..it was Franklin Roosevelt that brought in the new deal, not Teddy.
"Pre-Teddy Roosevelt and before the New Deal the poor and elderly in this country DIED of starvation, heat and cold. They were far greater in numbers as well."

You see muirduck the consenus here is that your intelligence is demonstrated over and over by your inability to grasp and perform the simple task of quoting accurately and writing articulately.

"Likewise the middle class was hard to find."
More BS muirduck, middle class people were to be found all over America. You only have to understand that middle class is a relative term, and there was a solid middle class in America from revolution to George Bush.

More BS muirduck, FDR and LBJ simply made things worse. FDR totally crashed the economy after the depression in order to make people desparate enough to accept socialism; and LBJ oh my God, what a disaster his great society has been for the poor in this country. As for poor? You need to get your butt out of the left coast paradise and travel to Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Angola, Congo, Zimbabwe, Darfur, Somalia, Bangladesh, and India to see what poor really is. Your Gods keep upping the dollar figure necessary to determine the "poor" and our "poor" in this nation live like kings compared to the poor in those other countries I named."

"FDR and LBJ's programs have markedly reduced these issues, reduced the number of poor and actually allowed them to afford an AC in conjunction with market forces. It was NOT a free market that got them out of their squalor and out of the heat and saved many elderly from freezing but a properly regulated market that worked so well.

The partially free market we have in this country is precisely what created the money that FDR and LBJ threw at "the poor", where the hell do you think it came from? Your Gods can not wave a magic wand and create this wealth out of free air, some one goes out and works their butt off so that your Gods can steal most of what he creates so they have something to throw at your "poor".

Think you'll grow a brain by the time your forty, muirduck?

muirgeo October 28, 2007 at 3:43 pm

vidyohs,

I really am not interested in replying to your childish post that rely heavily on name calling and attempted intimidation. You're really a despicable person that very few people would cite as the salt of the Earth Americans on which this great country was built. People don't cheer for Mr Potter when they watch, It's a Wonderful Life vidhoys they find him despicable.

Anyway just to clarify. I specifically meant Teddy Roosevelt NOT FDR. I did not say he passed the New Deal. I did imply that when he said things such as, "The man of great wealth owes a peculiar obligation to the State, because he derives special advantages from the mere existence of government.", he set the ground work and the tone for the New Deal after the collapse of the economy run 50 years previous by the Republican party.

And here's a little more pre-New Deal Teddy smackdown at the crap you defend.

The government is us; we are the government, you and I.
Theodore Roosevelt

Great corporations exist only because they were created and safeguarded by our institutions; and it is therefore our right and duty to see that they work in harmony with these institutions.
– Theodore Roosevelt

Lee Kelly October 28, 2007 at 5:16 pm

I suggest that the widespread availability of Air Conditioning has contributed to the rise in obesity and related health issues. Seriously.

muirgeo October 28, 2007 at 6:37 pm

Agreed Lee. The success of capitalism has probably contributed to the break up of families, traffic jams and the loss of open spaces among many other down sides. No more mom and pop stores, no more family farms just Megamarts and smelly factory farms.

And again this is where the narrow focus on economy alone to the disregard of the rest of society leads to the quip on economist knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing!

vidyohs October 28, 2007 at 9:36 pm

Naw, muirduck, I don't suppose you will.

brotio October 29, 2007 at 1:45 am

I hereby cite Vidyohs as salt-of-the-earth.

ben October 29, 2007 at 2:18 am

Yes, they want to control. But I think they truly believe that controlling or eliminating the decisions of others will bring the best possible world to those whose minds they would enslave.

Those are not mutually exclusive propositions. In fact doesn't their objective (a better world) follow from their control, at least in their own minds?

True_Liberal October 29, 2007 at 9:52 am

How Ironic.

"Liberal" (modern mis-usage) and individual liberty have become mutually exclusive.

BTW, read Dr. Williams' column:
http://www.gmu.edu/departments/economics/wew
/articles/07
/congressionalconstitutionalcontempt.htm

James Hanley October 29, 2007 at 7:42 pm

Vidyohs tries to argue that muirgeo doesn't know his facts, then says "FDR totally crashed the economy after the depression in order to make people desparate enough to accept socialism"?

Sigh.. I'm on the side of the pro-market folks here; A/C really is a quality of life issue for poor people, as well as the wealthy.

But anyone who believes FDR really wanted socialism is a nut. That is, a nut of the kind who believes any impingement on the market is socialism. That is, an ideologue, not an analytical mind.

Methinks October 30, 2007 at 4:22 pm

I'm not sure I agree totally. Modern liberals I've talked with seem to genuinely believe they are helping poor people. John Dewey

John, I mostly agree with you. However, once pressed, these same people admit that most government programs don't actually work and – worse – make life harder for the poor. Despite this realization, they continue to support the very same program (usually, only as long as someone else pays for them) and are completely against ideas like a negative income tax. When pressed, they always go to the "poor will misspend" excuse. In the end, one realizes that it's really about enslaving those whom they consider inferior to themselves. As far as I can tell (and I spent a long time in "liberal" college towns), they find practically everyone inferior to themselves. You would think that someone who truly wants to make things better for others would just try to do what works. But no.

John Dewey October 30, 2007 at 7:14 pm

methinks: "However, once pressed, these same people admit that most government programs don't actually work and – worse – make life harder for the poor."

Well, that hasn't been my experience, but perhaps I've managed to avoid the intelligent liberals. Most of the liberals I meet just don't think things through very well. They seem to favor emotional apppeals in their thinking, and would never adopt a pragmatic approach.

Liberals I know certainly seem to be sincere when they say things like:

"Think how much worse poverty would be if those welfare programs didn't exist at all."

or

"If we helped just one child out of the ghetto, the program was worth it."

Methinks October 31, 2007 at 5:36 pm

Yes, John, I think we're talking about two different kinds of liberal. The liberals I'm talking about have multiple degrees and cling to their beliefs like religious zealots. The liberals you're talking about are a much easier lot to talk to and have far less invested in a particular ideology. They will actually change their minds when you point out to them that these government programs are counterproductive.

True_Liberal November 1, 2007 at 8:30 am

The worst of the leftist camp are those who will categorize the population as "poor", "rich", or "middle class". They fail to acknowledge the second-order effects of government programs that can either encourage or hinder movement between "classes".

Junkheer May 28, 2008 at 4:22 pm

Actually.

The percentage of the American public that lived at or below the poverty level in the United States before the New Deal was getting close to 70 percent. Something like 66 or 67 percent.

Most of the U.S. had been living in an economic depression throughout the "Roaring Twenties" It only got noticed when it effected the more affluent occupants of the larger cities.

In the 1920's most Americans were living as subsistance farmers. During that decade one in four families lost their family farms to the banks.

Prior to Roosevelt, bank terms for purchasing a home were pretty much limited to the wealthy as well. A mortgage required the home buyer to put up half of the selling price of the home, and then had ten years to pay off the balance of the mortgage.

Miss a SINGLE payment and you lost not only the home but there was nothing even close to resembling equity. You lost every cent you put into the home.

Conservatives love refering to Laissez Faire Capitalism and Adam Smith but Smith was one of the most active critics of the possible abuses of this system.

Many of his ideas suggest that too high profits are bad for an economy, salaries that are too low are also disincentives to productivity among workers.

An example of Smith:

"the oppression of the poor must establish the monopoly of the rich",

Another:

profit is "always highest in the countries which are going fastest to ruin".

About private property:

"As soon as the land of any country has all become private property, the landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed."

About wages and business efforts to conspire to keep them low:

"Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labour.

My favorite is the one in which Smith criticizes the complaints or business owners about workers wages, while they are silent about excessively unjustifiable profits made by keeping workers lowly paid:

"Our merchants and master-manufacturers complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price of their goods both at home and abroad. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent and regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people.

Smith was dead set against the privatization of government functions:

"The government of an exclusive company of merchants is, perhaps, the worst of all governments for any country whatever."

Finally, Smith can be said to have presciently seen the rise of corporate lobbyists he simply states:

"The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from merchants and manufacturers should always be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined with the most suspicious attention."

Smith basically beleived that government should encourage business but not blindly support it.

His basic assertion was that labor should share in every increase in profit and productivity in the same proportion that the owners and investors in a business do.

Considering that since the rise of Reaganomics, the last year before Reagan was elected 1979 to the last full year to date, 2007, worker productivity has increased by 60 percent, but worker remuneration for that increase does not even come close to matching this increase.

There is nothing socialistic in suggesting that a workers standard of living should increase at the same rate as the standard of living of his employer. This does not give them EQUAL incomes, it just keeps the benefits of both labor and investment equal.

By every measure, prior to FDR becoming president, out of the entire population 16.7 percent of Americans earned an average of 862 dollars a year. The next 13.9 million workers earned an average of 2,139 dollars a year. 7.3 percent earned an average of 3813 dollars a year 2.5 percent earned an average of 6,716 dollars a year and finally 0.8 percent earned more than 10,000 dollars a year with the average of this grop being 21,074.

Basically there the assertion is correct. The average person in the bottom 99.2 percent of the population died in what we would consider middle age now, In 1931 the median age of death was 59.12. The mortality rate took its largest increase in the history of the country until that date during the Roosevelt presidency with the median age of death went from 62.81 years of age by 1941. By comparison it took 21 years for life expentancy to go from 48.23 in 1900 to 56.31 in 1921.

Overall conservative claims that the depression would have ended without Roosevelts New Deal, but basically all that would have occured was a return to the same conditions that existed before Roosevelt. Basically most Americans would be living in pretty dire poverty, and there would have been nothing resembling the current middle class had the same business and economic conditions that existed in the United States before F.D.R. had been allowed to continue in the same direction they had been going in before the Depression started. Which by any measure were not quite that great.

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