I really hope this is not opinion based. I am just looking for numbers, links, straightforward proof if possible that the lifetime we are in now, this decade, most of us are living better than in the past since the cost of living has increased and so has income inequality.

Are more people on welfare than any time in history for instance?

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    $\begingroup$ I am not sure if you can edit the title of your question, but there is something wrong with it. $\endgroup$ Nov 21, 2015 at 12:19
  • $\begingroup$ 1) Are you asking this about a particular country or about the whole world? 2) Changes in numbers or percentages of people on welfare in the long term are likely to reflect changes in welfare policies as much as whether people are living better. $\endgroup$ Nov 21, 2015 at 13:00

2 Answers 2


I think you are looking for data on real median incomes. If this concept is unknown to you, you can read about it on wikipedia.

According to the data the real income of most households decreased after the financial crisis but is still above the 1995 level. This means that most households do live better.

I don't know if the number of people on welfare would be a good indicator of economic prosperity as there have been some changes in the US welfare system recently, drastically reducing the number of recipients.


Something that is often overlooked when considering stagnation of income is the fact that even if (real) income did not increase at all, most people would still be better-off over time thanks to technological change, improvements in healthcare, etc. For example, even relatively poor households now have access to smartphones—things that the very wealthy did not enjoy a decade ago.

This is one reason why a substantial portion of economists believe that media income figures understate growth in standard of living.

  • $\begingroup$ True, but technological change is going to bite us I think. The rich don't hire people to help them afford lives. They hire people to run a business; once they can get technology that can automate the humans out, millions have no jobs. America will NOT turn to come communism state either so everyone gets welfare. I think they'll let us starve don't you? $\endgroup$
    – Bruno1993
    Dec 6, 2015 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Bruno1993 Yes, but it's far from settled that the armageddon scenario you describe will happen: economics.stackexchange.com/questions/9176/… . $\endgroup$
    – Ubiquitous
    Dec 6, 2015 at 17:25

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