Explained more broadly, Deaton has made his life’s work determining how consumers and their spending and saving patterns are not just connected to individual and household incomes but to the condition of regional and world economies.

Cooper david
Managing Editor / Progressive Cattle

Economic science isn’t really a subject in my wheelhouse. And when I hear about a high-brow economist unloading years of research, I’m prepared to hear the dour news of gloom and doom that lies ahead for society.

But with Deaton’s writings, there is a bright message worth repeating. Our economic conditions – and our lives – are good, and they continue to get better.

Much of his study deals with poorer or emerging nations – years of his research were conducted in India – but the message resonates with us in the more affluent industrial world, as well.

In his 2013 book, The Great Escape, Deaton writes that life expectancy has risen 50 percent and continues to climb. Those who live on less than $1 a day, rated by inflation, has dropped from 42 percent in 1981 down to 14 percent today. Medicine and disease prevention are stronger than ever.


Science and technology continue to make lives easier, safer and healthier. The challenges, dangers and threats to our well-being in society remain constant – including poverty and disease. And with those challenges, there will continue to be inequality.

But just as it happened with our parents and their parents before them, there is a way out. “New knowledge, new inventions and new ways of doing things are the keys to progress,” Deaton writes. “More often still, the social and economic environment creates innovations in response to need.” In other words, where there is need, invention and discovery are soon to follow.

All of these thoughts seemed to be an appropriate reminder for the month of Thanksgiving and how the simplest meaning of prosperity is when we can say, “I have enough for my needs.”

We live in exceptional and blessed times, when we have abundant freedoms, privileges and advantages that define our happiness, and we usually live longer to pursue it.

And Deaton is right, we know there are still unequal conditions around the world, where children die in squalor just because they were born in the wrong country.

Those are the challenges and opportunities of our time. As lucky as we are, we can do better to produce prosperity not just for ourselves, but so many others who still lack what they need. Take time to remember that in the days of Thanksgiving.  end mark

David Cooper