To the extent that the standard of living has increased in the US over the last 30 years, it has mainly been because of technological change. Things that used to cost a lot are cheaper now and many things that never existed before exist now. Let us look at just a couple of examples. Televisions existed 30 years ago, of course. But they were much lower quality than today's sets and cost more as well. Cell phones did not exist at all 30 years ago but now they are ubiquitous. Technological advances allowed these things to be made and/or made more cheaply than they once were. This has caused our standard of living to rise.