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What Has Happened to the Quality of Life in the Advanced Industrialized Nations?

Edited by Edward N. Wolff, Professor of Economics, New York University, US
The contributors to this volume investigate to what extent welfare has increased in the United States over the postwar period and provide a rigorous examination of both conventional measures of the standard of living, as well as more inclusive indices.

The chapters cover such topics as: race, home ownership and family structure; the status of children; the consumer price index; a historical perspective on the standard of living; worker rights and labor strength in advanced economies. In addition, they explore two economic systems delivering the goods – the free enterprise system of the United States and the European social welfare state. They then present international comparisons and highlight the relative advantages and disadvantages of these two systems.
In Association with the Levy Economics Institute
Extent: 424 pp
Hardback Price: $173.00 Web: $155.70
Publication Date: 2004
ISBN: 978 1 84376 193 8
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  • Economics and Finance
  • Welfare Economics
  • Politics and Public Policy
  • Public Policy
  • Social Policy and Sociology
  • Sociology and Sociological Theory
Throughout the 1990s the US expanded its lead over other advanced industrial nations in terms of conventionally measured per capita income. However, it is not clear that welfare levels in America have grown concomitantly with per capita income, or that Americans are necessarily better off than citizens of other advanced countries. The contributors to this volume investigate to what extent welfare has increased in the United States over the postwar period and provide a rigorous examination of both conventional measures of the standard of living, as well as more inclusive indices.

The chapters cover such topics as: race, home ownership and family structure; the status of children; the consumer price index; a historical perspective on the standard of living; worker rights and labor strength in advanced economies. In addition, they explore two economic systems delivering the goods – the free enterprise system of the United States and the European social welfare state. They then present international comparisons and highlight the relative advantages and disadvantages of these two systems.

This provocative and accessible volume answers the intriguing question posed by the title and will be of interest to economists, sociologists, policymakers and policy analysts, as well as students of these fields.
‘The book is a rich source of information.’
– Piet Keiser, International Journal of Social Welfare

‘Especially useful to scholars is the in-depth description of methodology relating to the measures of well-being, the nature of the data, and terminology. A valuable addition to economic, sociological, and public policy collections. Highly recommended.’
– H.I. Liebling, Choice
Contributors: D. Baker, R. Buchele, J. Christiansen, W.J. Collins, M.S. Floro, D.T. Greenwood, T.L. Hungerford, C. Jencks, D.S. Johnson, R.A. Margo, S.E. Mayer, L. Osberg, D.B. Papadimitriou, L. Rainwater, A. Sharpe, T.M. Smeeding, S. Spilerman, R.H. Steckel, J. Swingle, F. Torche, E.N. Wolff, A. Zacharias
Contents: Preface by Dimitri B. Papadimitriou Introduction by Ajit Zacharias Part I: Living Standards in the United States 1. Recent Trends in Living Standards in the United States 2. Using Expenditures to Measure the Standard of Living in the United States: Does it Make a Difference? 3. Who has Benefited from Economic Growth in the United States since 1969? The Case of Children 4. Reassessing the Consumer Price Index: Five Years After the Boskin Commission Part II: International Comparisons of Living Standards 5. Has Economic Well-being Improved in Canada and the United States? 6. Comparing Living Standards Across Nations: Real Incomes at the Top, the Bottom, and the Middle Part III: Wealth and Living Standards 7. Race, Home Ownership, and Family Structure in Twentieth-century America 8. Living Standard Potential and the Transmission of Advantage in Chile Part IV: Other Dimensions in Measuring Well-being 9. Historical Perspective on the Standard of Living Using Anthropometric Data 10. Time Intensity and Well-being: What We Can Learn from Time-use Data 11. Measuring Worker Rights and Labor Strength in the Advanced Economies 12. Measuring Quality of Life with Local Indicators Index