McKinsey Global Institute has summarized the cost of living in the wealthier countries since the beginning of the century, now twenty years ago. What has gone up and what has gone down?
As McKinsey's analysis points out, we can readily see that our discretionary spending has dropped while the cost of necessities has risen – healthcare, housing, and education. In terms of "keeping up," if your measure is status symbols, costs have dropped. It seems like we can all have the newest and best cellphone, shirt, or pants. But if we measure by our ability to achieve more, through education or to be well, as measured by healthcare costs, then more and more of us may be falling behind.
One step, I suppose, to a more equitable society is to flip that script, bringing down the cost of essentials and making a 40-hour workweek sufficient to support oneself and your family.