… is from page 2 of Dartmouth economist Bruce Sacerdote’s excellent 2017 paper “Fifty Years of Growth in American Consumption, Income, and Wages“:
The pessimistic narrative on real wages is somewhat at odds with casual empiricism about material goods consumption. If you spend time working with high school students, you notice that even in low income areas, many of the students have cell phones and have access to cable TV and internet service at home. Access to these powerful and modern tools suggests that low income families have seen important gains in at least some areas of consumption. The quality and variety of home appliances and electronics (TVs) in the average home is surely vastly superior to what people owned in the 1970s. American homes have become more spacious and cars are both higher quality and there are more cars per family.
DBx: Sacerdote goes on to offer powerful empirical evidence that even Americans in the lower half of the U.S. income ‘distribution’ live today material lives that are far richer than were the lives lived by their counterparts of 50 years earlier.