The facts do not support your position. After adjusting for inflation, people make more money now. The difference between "then" and now depends on what period you pick as your "then". The single overarching item affecting cost of living is consumption. Our society now requires much, much more to be satisfied than 50 or 100 years ago. I'll admit that the amount of "stuff" in my house is obscene. Our family spends a stupid amount of money on things we really don't need. The amount we spend per month on Satellite TV, phones (4 cells and a home) and internet would probably feed a Mexican village. Government costs more as well, but we can blame ourselves for our ridiculous cost of living. My family, like most, does itself in.