This article is typical of many I’ve been reading, as well as reflective of a widespread attitude. I can’t argue with the numbers, but something seems fundamentally wrong. Quantitatively, we may be stagnating, but qualitatively, a lot has changed. We’re living longer. Health care has dramatically improved (which you won’t notice until you need it). The environment is cleaner. Almost every product you want to buy is better than even ten years ago. We have an abundance of easy to access entertainment, enrichment, and educational opportunities. Communication has never been easier or cheaper. Life has become qualitatively better, which can’t be reflected in the numbers – how do you quantify quality?
Economists try – they call it hedonics, but establishing a numeric value for Facebook access (for example) is not going to be without controversy.
The stagnation narrative makes sense when you look at the numbers, but it makes a lot less sense when you consider your overall standard of living.
Our qualitative wealth is even more impressive if you take the long view.