I'm confused too.
The article is saying that the standard of living is not always "real." It's more about expectations of people about the way they should be living. So does this mean that a country can have a high standard of living without actually reaching those standards?
But the standards of that country must have been fulfilled at some point for people to have those expectations right?
For example, in a country where no one can afford a car, people are not going to feel entitled to having a car, are they?