The most widely cited social welfare statistics in the United States are based on tabulations of family income. The picture that emerges gives cause for concern: median family income has hardly changed over the last twenty-five years while inequality has increased and poverty remains persistently high. Yet consumption-based statistics as employed in this work yield rigorous and quite different estimates of real individual and social welfare. Closely linked to economic theory, Professor Slesnick's examination of standards of living, inequality, and poverty reveal that the standard of US living has grown significantly while inequality and poverty have decreased to relatively low levels. His assessment is drawn from extended period data in order to chart long-run trends. The work will be of interest to economists, sociologists, economic historians, political scientists, and other readers in the social and policy sciences. Designed to be accessible to non-economists, technical details are relegated to appendices.
• Controversial analysis showing US low income populations generally are not as badly off as many liberal analysts claim • Based on consumption statistics, not income data, and closely linked to mainstream economic theory
1. Introduction; 2. Measuring economic welfare; 3. An initial look at the data; 4. The cost of living; 5. The standard of living; 6. Inequality; 7. Poverty in America; 8. Conclusion.