What measures the Standard of Living?

Essay by coyoteuglyUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, April 2006

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America has been the world's economic leader for over a century, yet there is mixed data as to weather America is truly ahead of the European countries. The data that proves these facts is partially distorted and so it is very difficult to make conclusions about a standard of living. Europeans are very productive but they work shorter hours per week then Americans so that they have leisure time to enjoy their hard work. Americans however spend excessive amounts of time working, which inhibits them from having time to enjoy the fruits of their labor. This is where the issue becomes gray. In graphs and data, Europeans seem to be behind Americans, but are they really worse off? Europeans highly value their leisure time and enjoy taking time off from work, whereas Americans try to squeeze in as many working hours as possible to make a few extra bucks.

It is important to realize that money is not worth anything if one never gets to use it and enjoy it.

Americans are very competitive and feel the need to be ahead of their neighbors which forces them to work longer to make more money. When all Americans feel that drive however, each person becomes upset that others are also rising, and this causes them to become unhappy and reduces their standard of living. Europeans are able to live contently and comfortably, and enjoy their leisure time. In addition, one might think that high European taxes would damper their standard of living, however these taxes allow Europeans to realize that working an extra hour won't increase their pay significantly. As a result, they choose to go home and enjoy leisure time, thus raising their standard of living. So while the data shows that Americans seem...