Across the world, more than a billion people raised out of poverty. At home, a greater array of goods and services than our grandparents could imagine along with cleaner, safer, and frankly more interesting jobs.
And now the icing on the cake; news from the IFS that thanks to record employment the incomes of the least well-off households are rising at a healthy pace, faster in fact than among their middle class and wealthy counterparts, pushing income inequality to a 30-year low.
Yet recent polling suggests ambivalence about market capitalism in Britain is widespread. Half of all respondents are unwilling to say that private enterprise is the best means of solving the country’s economic problems.
What explains it? Research for the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation may provide at least a partial explanation. It shows how the costs in markets people use every day – like food, fuel and buses – have restricted and restrained families’ chances of a good standard of living.
Since 2008 researchers at Loughborough University’s Centre for Research in Social Policy have published annual estimates of the amount of money needed to afford the necessities of life in the UK, based on detailed consultation with members of the public. A calculator allows you to see what this looks like for different family types.
The Minimum Income Standard is calculated by constructing baskets of goods and services required by different types of household (two parent families with children, pensioners, single adults, lone parent households). Over the last decade, the cost of that basket of goods and services has risen by nearly a third for a couple with two children.