Confusing Inequality of Income with Inequality of Lifestyle

26th April 2015

A common problem in discussions about poverty is that inequality of income is frequently confused with inequality in lifestyle. Inequality of lifestyles has been “flattening” at ever increasing rates over the last two centuries.  Ever increasing numbers of people have ever increasing access to greater and greater quality of lifestyle.

The most dramatic examples are in health, infant mortality and life expectancy – and the statistics in these areas are familiar. There are numerous examples in travel, housing, clothing, energy and of course leisure.

A perhaps less well known example but which shows how dramatic this increase in equality has been, is that:

  • the cost of the 32 gig of flash memory to be found in the increasingly ubiquitous smart phone was, in 1991 $1.44 million US dollars.
  • An iPhone 4 in 1993 when Bill Clinton came to power would have cost some $3.3 million US dollars to produce

It is typically not your income which matters but what you can do with it….. and inequality in “what you can do with it” is rapidly declining.

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