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Dora L. Costa

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dora L. Costa, associate professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will document the long run evolution of American living standards from the mid-19th century to the present. Conventional thinking equates money income with well-being and economic growth with gains in living standards. Costa will adopt a more complete definition of living standards, measuring consumption, hours worked, and health. Costa's research indicates that living standards do not always keep pace with fast economic growth; neither do they necessarily suffer during periods of income stagnation. Ultimately, Costa aims to formulate a new quantitative measure of living standards to complement more familiar indicators, such as income and growth.


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