Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Average is Over (3) Taste or Waste

In Average is Over, Tyler Cowen suggests that most people will get used to being poor as permanent income decline becomes normal.

There is one final way we will adjust to uneven wage patterns and that is with our tastes. Many of society’s lower earners will reshape their tastes—will have to reshape their tastes—towards cheaper desire.

The good news is that there is a lot of waste in American consumption—massive amounts of waste, in fact. Everyone has their favourite story about what the other guy spends his money on and could do without. But also the good news, oddly enough, is that there is a lot waste in American consumption. Citizens faced with financial pressures will shift into cheaper consumption, and a lot of them will do so without losing very much happiness or value, precisely because there is already so much waste in what they buy (248).
Cowan says that this adjustment will be tough for poor women, who choose to have children. He suggests that caring for children is an experience that many will not be able to afford.

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