Political mentor of mine, David Hall, recently turned me on to a new Google labs web service – Books Ngram Viewer. It allows you to search for the percentage of occurrence of words or phrases in book published from 1800 until today.
While playing with it, I typed in the terms wealth and poverty. From 1800 until 1960 wealth doubled poverty consistently. In 1960, poverty is mentioned with increasing frequency.
I am not sure if it means anything, but I do find it intriguing that while actual poverty is in the decline, mentions of it are increasing. Could it be that bringing poverty to the public eye has influenced the decline? Could it be that people are writing about this decline more often?