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The Rise and Fall of American Growth: Exploring the Numbers

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  • Nicholas Crafts

Abstract

This paper reviews some of the major claims in Robert Gordon's Rise and Fall of American Growth. His argument that growth of conventional real GDP per person is well below that of real living standards is accepted. It is shown that adding an imputation to GDP for reductions in mortality raises growth substantially, especially between 1929 and 1950. Gordon is also right that total factor productivity growth peaked in the second and third quarters of the twentieth century but his claim that there was a "great leap forward" in the 1940s, stimulated by World War 2, is not persuasive.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicholas Crafts, 2016. "The Rise and Fall of American Growth: Exploring the Numbers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(5), pages 57-60, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:106:y:2016:i:5:p:57-60
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.p20161070
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Bakker, Gerben & Crafts, Nicholas & Woltjer, Pieter, 2015. "A vision of the growth process in a technologically progressive economy: the United States, 1899-1941," Economic History Working Papers 64779, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    2. John W. Kendrick, 1961. "Productivity Trends in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend61-1.
    3. Michael R. Haines, 1994. "Estimated Life Tables for the United States, 1850-1900," NBER Historical Working Papers 0059, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. William D. Nordhaus, 2002. "The Health of Nations: The Contribution of Improved Health to Living Standards," NBER Working Papers 8818, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Boris Begović, 2016. "The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War by Robert J. Gordon," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 63(5), pages 627-636, December.
    2. Zhou, Yixiao & Tyers, Rod, 2019. "Automation and inequality in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 58(C).
    3. Uwe Cantner & Holger Graf & Ekaterina Prytkova & Simone Vannuccini, 2018. "The Compositional Nature of Productivity and Innovation Slowdown," Jena Economic Research Papers 2018-006, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    4. Grace Taylor & Rod Tyers, 2017. "Secular Stagnation: Determinants and Consequences for Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 93(303), pages 615-650, December.
    5. Robert J. Gordon, 2016. "Perspectives on The Rise and Fall of American Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(5), pages 72-76, May.
    6. Paqué Karl-Heinz, 2016. "Der Wandel des Wachstums: Anmerkungen zur Dynamik von Wohlstand, Technologie und Verteilung aus Anlass von Robert J. Gordons Buch „The Rise and Fall of American Growth“," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 17(3), pages 289-308, September.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • N11 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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