Middle-Class Perspective

by Don Boudreaux on August 27, 2012

in Housing, Inequality, Myths and Fallacies, Standard of Living

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:

Robert Samuelson wisely emphasizes that America’s middle-class isn’t disappearing (“‘Saving’ the middle class,” Aug. 27).  Indeed, despite many obstacles, ordinary Americans live quite well – as a new paper by Kip Hagopian and UCLA economist Lee Ohanian reveals.*

Consider, for example, this fact reported by Hagopian and Ohanian: “on average America’s poor live in housing that totals 515 square feet per person, about 40 percent more per person than the living quarters of the average European household.  (The average American household has about 845 square feet per person, or 2.3 times the average European household.)”

No lone fact proves any proposition.  But because even a typical poor American today enjoys considerably more household living space than does an average European, we have some reason to be skeptical of the discernment of those who clamor that government be given more power and money in order to “save” the middle-class.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

* “The Mismeasure of Inequality,” Policy Review, August 2012.

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