Sunday, January 25, 2009

Keeping score

A colleague called my attention to Expenditure patterns of young single adults: two recent generations compared... "Differences in spending patterns for young, never-married adults in 2004-05 and their counterparts in 1984-85 may reflect differences in demographics; however, whether these changes indicate an increase or decrease in economic status remains unclear."


Author Geoffrey Paulin is careful about the difficulties involved in making comparisons. And he focuses on expenditures rather than income. But yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the introduction of the Mac. And some people have pretty good recollections of that one -- and how it compares to its latest counterpart.

But computers (or iPhones, or iPods, or HDTVs, or ATMs or 10,000 related items) are not mentioned in the report, but new job oppoertunities in computer tech are. In fact, electronics are not mentioned. The internet is not mentioned -- expect in several footnotes with links to citations and sources.

Medical care is only mentioned insofar as there are apparently no statistically significant differences in expenditures between the two cohorts. I know that young folks can avoid most medical procedures, but for the few that do not, would any of them settle for what was available 20 years ago?

My points are obvious and have been made many times before. But just when we get a steady diet of pietistic hand wringing from all around, we must be sure not to lose sight of the many good things that we are fortunate enough to have access to.