A study by McKinsey & Co presented at the World Economic Forum in 2017 explains that for much of the past 70 years, nearly all households in advanced economies saw their incomes increase. Between 1993 and 2005, 98% of households in 25 advanced economies experienced rising real incomes. Many of us took it for granted that each new generation would have better opportunities than the last.

But in recent years this trend has ground to a halt, and even gone into reverse. A report by the McKinsey Global Institute, Poorer than their parents? Flat or falling incomes in advanced economies, found that between 2005 and 2014, the real income of up to 70% of households in advanced economies flattened or fell.