Publications

Book Series | June 2004

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

Edited by Edward N. Wolff
What Has Happened to the Quality of Life in the Advanced Industrialized Nations?
Throughout the 1990s the United States 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, nor that Americans are necessarily better off than citizens of other advanced countries. The contributors to this volume investigate the extent to which welfare has increased in the United States over the post-WWII period and provide a rigorous examination of 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; and worker rights and labor strength in advanced economies. In addition, they explore two economic systems for delivering 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.

Wolff has included essays by Dimitri B. Papadimitriou; Ajit Zacharias; David S. Johnson; Christopher Jencks, Susan E. Mayer, and Joseph Swingle; Dean Baker; Lars Osberg and Andrew Sharpe; Timothy M. Smeeding and Lee Rainwater; William J. Collins and Robert A. Margo; Seymour Spilerman and Florencia Torche; Richard H. Steckel; Thomas L. Hungerford and Maria S. Floro; Robert Buchele and Jens Christiansen; and Daphne T. Greenwood.

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 publication of this collection of essays is the direct outgrowth of a 2001 Levy Institute conference organized by Wolff under the Institute's distribution of income and wealth program. The purpose of the conference was to better understand the many economic aspects of well-being that help define the “quality of life.”

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Working Paper No. 891
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Author(s): Michalis Nikiforos, Gennaro Zezza
May 2017

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