In 1950, it would have taken almost 8 months of full-time work at the average manufacturing wage to earn the $1,650 needed to purchase the 16 items above at the retail prices in 1950 (or 31.7 weeks, 158.4 days, or 1,267 hours). Today, it would take only 1.6 months of work at the average hourly wage today of $18.01 to earn the $4,580 necessary to purchase those same items at today’s retail prices (or 6.4 weeks, 31.8 days or 254.5 hours).
One reason that the new commanding heights are education, health care, and leisure is that durable goods have become so inexpensive to obtain. Thanks to Nick Schulz for the pointer. Nick and I have a forthcoming book (I hope–I’m still waiting to see galleys) that has a lot more of this sort of data.
Then Mark Perry argues that food prices have fallen 82% in the last 100 years-
Finally Bryan Caplan reminds us that the naughts were the second least scary decade of the the last hundred years-
So relax, and have a nice day.
-Harry Dexter White
“Without the progress of the 20th century we’d all be watching television by candlelight.” -Milton Berle
Editor: See also “In Defense of Extreme Meliorism“, Bryan Caplan