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Getting Better

Steve Horwitz, over at Liberty & Power, makes a point that’s both important and too-often ignored.  (Hat tip to Bob Higgs.)  I blogged on a similar point earlier.

I’ve a hypothesis that I haven’t yet subjected to rigorous thought or testing, but that I strongly sense to point to something truthful.  It’s this: the more wealthy a society becomes, the more difficult it is to quantify and measure changes in living standards.  The reason is that part of growing prosperity is found in changes in the typical bundle of goods and services that consumers buy.  Indeed, the very idea of a ‘typical bundle’ becomes more and more obsolete.  Expansions in the number of choices and improvements in product and service quality — rather than mere increases in the quantity of long-familiar and relatively unchanging goods and servics — are more and more the order of the day in wealthier societies.  Again, these improvements that make our lives better are very difficult to measure.