Keynes' conclusion was that "a point may soon be reached... when these [absolute] needs are satisfied, in the sense that we prefer to devote our further energies to non-economic purposes." In that case:
"the day is not far off when the Economic Problem will take the back seat where it belongs, and that the arena of the heart and head will be occupied... by our real problems---the problems of life and of human relations, of creation and behavior and religion."
More important, Keynes's predictions have not come to pass. He expected society to undergo a profound change as attention shifted from working hard to keep the wolf from the door to living a good life. But we today do not feel that material acquisition is about to go out of style, we do not appear to be on the threshold of converting en masse from full-time to half-time or quarter-time work, and we have not begun to rank and applaud people by how they spend their leisure as opposed to what they do at work. The dividing line between useful necessity and pointless luxury always comes at roughly twice one's current standard of living. After all, Americans could subsist - healthily - off of wheat flour, evaporated milk, cabbage, spinach, and navy beans for less than fifty cents a day. But, as George Stigler wrote:
"such a diet would not be to the satisfaction of either the population or the students of nutrition.... Man insists upon luxuries such as meat, and should we somehow fully address his desire (despite his penchant for shifting from sow belly to pheasant), he will no doubt insist upon shifting to another and more expensive food.... [T]he economic system has as its purpose forcing people to find new scarcities... the alteration of a host of circumstances and policies that deprive large numbers of people of eminently desirable things that a more efficiently organized society could afford."
So there is no real reason to expect "satiation" at any level of per capita income that I can foresee. The level of luxury at which people imagine satiation is always three times the value of their current consumption.
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