Consumption of Wealth 1

living, standard, family, class, life, wages and maintain

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

10. Standard of living.—The standard of living, which is different in different classes of society, con sists in any particular class of the things customarily enjoyed by the members of that class. Some of the things are regarded as necessaries, some as ordinary comforts, and some as luxuries. The standard of living is said to be rising whenever there is improve ment in the quality of the so-called necessities or any increase in the number of comforts and luxuries which the members of a class ordinarily enjoy and regard as necessary to their contentment.

Members of each social class or group come to have a concept of what is necessary to maintain their proper position in the class. This list, of course, must include shelter, food and clothing. Provision against sickness, and income sufficient to meet the possibilities of unemployment are also a part of the requisite income. And finally there should be pro vision for some social life, enjoyment of books, and a chance for additional education. To group the different expenditures in two classes will emphasize the point of view that is indicated in this paragraph— first, the support things, including food, raiment and housing; and second, the spiritual things, which may be summarized in amusement, education and society.' In the books of the English classical economists the "Iron Law of Wages" was frequently referred to as governing the return of labor. According to this law the wages of unskilled labor constantly tend to ward the cost of subsistence. Such a meager exist ence unfortunately constitutes the actual standard of living in many districts.

Above this is the normal standard of living, which emphasizes the healthy growth of the family in men tal, moral and ph3-sical directions and leads to a higher type of individual, better educated and better endowed physically. An ideal standard would in clude this and more—comfortable housing for the family, good food, and opportunities for the develop ment of the msthetic and spiritual sides of man's nature.

11. Stintubts of the bounds, the standard of living that is hoped for has a marked effect upon the ambitions, tending to stimulate the worker to greater efforts to supply his wants. The trade-union has been able to insist upon a minimum standard of living as secured thru a given wage. In

so far as the higher standards of living have been re alized the family life of the-nation has been much ben efited, but where the standard of living cannot be re alized, tho it may still be insisted upon, the family life may be rendered increasingly unstable. To found and maintain a home with rising standards of living requires a larger income than is attainable by any con siderable part of the population. Consequently there are increasing domestic difficulties and a lower stand ard of family life.

The standard of living is an important economic factor, and from the psychological point of view has much to do with keeping up the struggle for the economic means to supply wants. In America the pressure of the standard has reduced the size of fam ilies among the native-born, and increased the com petition in occupations in which wages are low as compared with the standard of living.. The more un skilled trades and occupations have been taken by the foreign-born; and the native-born have been driven into the higher grade occupations, where wages and the standard of living are higher.

12. Determining the standard.—Putting the mat ter broadly, there are three ways in which some ap proximation of standards of living may be reached; the first of these is thru the process of intelligent guess ing: the second, by getting an authoritative state ment of the cost of what is needed to maintain an average family; and the third is thru the informa tion gained by the study of family budgets.

The various government statistical bureaus in the United States and Europe have worked out an esti mate of the commodities required for the support of a family and then figured their cost. This method has been /followed by such careful investigators as Professor R. C. Chapin,' Mrs. Louis B. Moore,' and her associate, Miss Elizabeth Lennox, who have given the public the benefit of their researches in the col lection of family budgets.

As early as 1857, Ernst Engel, the head of the Prussian Statistical Bureau, advanced the theory that the study of family budgets should yield a number of interesting results that would be helpful in ascer taining economic conditions. His table is given be low.

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7