Saturday, June 23, 2018

On standards of living..................

Economics today is beset with a number of problems, not least of which is a fundamentally flawed approach toward measuring one of the most important features of the economy: the standard of living. Economists generally track this key measure using benchmarks such as real income per household, real GDP per capita, or the real wage (with the prefix "real" indicating that figures are expressed in terms of purchasing power). But calculating living standards in this way assumes that everyone purchases roughly the same mix of goods and services. That was true when a large share of income went toward traditional necessities like food, as well as mass-market durable goods like refrigerators. This is no longer the case.
Economic historian Robert Fogel studied changes in overall consumer budgets, including changes in the income that is "spent" on leisure — that is, time that could otherwise have been taken up with paid work — and found that, between 1875 and 1995, leisure increased from 18% of the consumer budget to 68%. By contrast, consumer spending on food, clothing, and housing went from 74% to just 12%.
-as culled from this interesting article from Arnold Kling.  From the view in the cheap seats, I'm not sure I understand, or believe, the last sentence.

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