Economic Stagnation?

by Don Boudreaux on January 19, 2016

in Standard of Living

This recent Facebook post by Steve Horwitz on the living standards of ordinary Americans prompted me to steal a few minutes away from a paper that I’m currently working on – a paper on changes in the living standards of ordinary Canadians since the mid-1970s.  In the course of my diversion from my exploration of Canadian data I found this September 2013 report from the U.S. Census Bureau.  It’s a report that I don’t recall seeing until just now.

Of particular interest is page one of Table 3 (the first item pictured here; click to enlarge).

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 2.21.46 PM

And I found Figure 6 also to be especially interesting:

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 2.19.18 PM

I suppose that if one were intent to use these Census Bureau data to tell a story of American middle-class stagnation, one could do so. After all, the number of American households with a refrigerator in 2011 is only one-tenth of a percentage point higher than was that number in 1992 and one-tenth of a percentage point lower than it was in 2010.


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