standards of living

standards of living
The British enjoy the high standard of living of an industrialized western country. Most British people tend not to judge quality of life by money alone though, and would point out benefits such as a stable political situation, freedom of speech and choice, and relatively little official interference in their lives.
  Disposable income (= the amount of money people have to spend after paying taxes) is commonly used to measure the standard of living. This has risen steadily since the 1960s. People with low wages or who are unemployed, and people who have retired, have less income and a lower standard of living. For many years disposable income has been rising but the gap between rich and poor has grown wider. People from ethnic minority groups are among the poorer sections of society. Standards of living also vary from region to region. The wealthiest region is the south-east.
  In the 1920s people in the US began to believe in the American dream, the idea that anyone who worked hard could have material goods as a reward. Having such goods proves that a person is hard-working, so many people try to have everything their neighbours have, a practice called ‘keeping up with the Joneses’. As a result, America is often said to be a consumer society. The material standard of living is very high and the cost of living relatively low. Many Americans have large discretionary incomes (= money which people do not need for food and clothing and can spend as they choose) and can therefore buy many consumer goods but, as in Britain, there is a large and increasing gap between rich and poor.

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Universalium. 2010.

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