Yglesias

How We Spend: Mostly Housing And Transportation

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The BLS updates its household expenditure data. Here’s the big picture:

This explains, incidentally, how it can both be the case that we’ve had sluggish growth in living standards and an explosion of fun new digital entertainment devices. Entertainment simply isn’t that big of a deal economically. The printing press was, in retrospect, a very important invention. But a massive increase in the productivity of the book-making industry didn’t raise European living standards simply because book-purchasing wasn’t a major part of European economic activity. When productivity in clothing manufacturing accelerated, that made a difference. For the contemporary United States, housing and transportation are the biggest parts of the picture.