How a productivity phenomenon explains the unraveling of America

Agatha Christie once remarked that she never thought she’d be so rich that she could afford a motor car, nor so poor that she couldn’t afford servants. It’s a pithy encapsulation of the scope of technological and social change she lived through, and for those who value a socially mobile and egalitarian society, both of those changes probably count as progress.

What’s less immediately obvious is that those changes are related to one another — but they are. In a very real sense, the increasing affordability of automobiles is what made it more and more expensive to keep servants.


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