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It is often asked if “progress”, as defined by an increase in the level of general economic development, is “real”-especially for people of lower socioeconomic status (SES). This paper investigated the empirical validity of two hypotheses relevant to this question at early stages of economic development. The controlled field study took place in the lowland Philippines. Data provided clear support for the first hypothesis (H-1), viz, as the level of community development increases, the rate of material improvement for above average individuals is much greater than that for people in lower SES groups. Still, however, things do improve for lower SES people with economic development. Further, the improvements tend to make them express more contentment and economic optimism than their more traditional counterparts (H-2B), although these data failed to support this belief to the degree they supported H-1.