There’s a huge difference between what the typical English working person wanted 100 years ago and now. It was limited then, it is limitless now. A century ago, he or she wanted the status goods — house, car, furnishings, good clothes, ornaments, holidays that, previously, only royalty and the aristocracy could afford.
Everybody spent as much as they could possibly afford on these in order to claim his role within the social group in which he worked or found comfortable in his leisure hours.
By about 1990, there were no more status goods left. What remained, however, were those goods on which the individual depended even more fundamentally than status goods for his rank order in society. Indeed, society as a whole utterly depended on them. These are education and health. Neither of these could be mass produced at various appropriate price levels according to the different social classes.
But today, since the Biological Revolution in 1953 — the demonstration of the structure of DNA — thus overlapping with the decline of the Industrial revolution — the life sciences have already taken as great leaps forward in the 21st century as the physical sciences did in the 20th century.
And, another difference between now and then, is that, today, due to the Internet, everybody in the advanced countries is fully aware of what could be available by way of superb education and health care — if only the politics could be got right.
There are no limits in these consumer demands. Unless governments and their attendant politicians learn to define their functions much more carefully in the coming years — avoid what they shouldn’t be doing and attend that which they should be doing more of — then they and their electorates are going to get into an even bigger mess than they are already in.