Cost of living the "good life" in the US
The following Yahoo article outlines the cost of living an upper-middle class life in various parts of the US, particularly the popular urban areas. While not entirely scientific, the article's estimates provide a generally idea of the cost of living the "good life" in the US today. As of 2003, only 1.4% of US households made $250k or more (pre-tax household income). According to the article, a household needs to have $250k-$275k of after-tax income to live the good life in many of the popular cities in the US. I don't have any solid data but my sense is that the number of people enjoying the good life in the US has been steadily declining over the last few decades. One reason for the decline appears to be the cost of housing, which is uniformly high in many of the affluent neighborhoods throughout the US.