How Stagnant Are We? A Time Diary Self-Experiment
By Bryan Caplan
An argument I’ve repeatedly had with Tyler Cowen:
Tyler: We’re stagnating!
Bryan: No we’re not. You’re ignoring massive CPI bias. We live in an age of consumption-biased technological change. Official numbers don’t adequately adjust for quality improvements, and utterly ignore the mountains of free stuff we keep receiving.
Tyler: How massive?
Bryan: Oh… Say 1 percentage-point per year.
Tyler: You’re crazy.
I’m hoping EconLog readers can help us resolve our impasse. How? By keeping a time diary for a day or two. For every waking hour of the day, ask yourself:
1. Was my experience during the last hour noticeably better as a result of an innovation introduced from 1990-present? [Yes/No]
2. Was my experience during the last hour noticeably better as a result of an innovation introduced from 1950-1989? [Yes/No]
Ideally you’ll record your judgments as you go, but chronologically reviewing your day hour-by-hour is a reasonable substitute.
Once you’re done, code “yes”=1 and “no”=0. Then calculate your average scores, and report them on quicksurveys.
My predictions, assuming I get at least 100 responses:
1. The median response for question #1 will be at least .15.
2. The median response for question #2 will be no more than three times as high as the median response for question #1.
Feel free to share your general thoughts in the comments, but please post your results exclusively on the survey page.
P.S. To broaden the sample, please blog, Like, Tweet, etc.