We mean that if you could choose between the two material standards of living, other things being the same, you might well prefer the 12th percentile standard of 1996 to the 50th percentile standard of 1950. But does that mean that most people were poor in 1950? No–because man does not live by bread, cars, televisions, or even plumbing alone.
– Paul Krugman
Slate, Dec. 22, 1996