Over the holidays I had a little peek at “the Universe in a nutshell” by Stephen Hawking. Early on in the book he states that it is technology, not political systems or economic dogma, that has led to the vast improvement in living standards in modern times.
However, the creation of technology also relies on the political and economic system of the day. An environment that rewards and promotes progress is likely to experience more “technological advancement” than one that doesn’t. As a result, there is a trade-off between technology and types of social structures – and issue that does involve political science and “economic dogma”. Just because technology is a closer link in the chain towards higher living standards does not mean that other elements are inconsequential.
Furthermore, the social structure of a group does influence living standards – in so far as it influences happiness. The belief that better technology will increase happiness is just that – a belief.