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The origins of US total factor productivity growth in the golden age

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  • Alexander J. Field

    () (Department of Economics, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA 95053, USA.)

Abstract

A consideration of TFP growth in the United States during the golden age (1948–1973) raises two related questions: on the one hand why was it so strong and on the other hand, why were TFP growth rates lower than they were during the Depression years (1929–1941)? A continuing downward trend in TFP growth within manufacturing, and its declining share after World War II, provide answers to the latter question. A persisting productivity windfall associated with the build out of the surface road infrastructure helps answer the former question. By adopting a longer historical perspective, we can move beyond understanding the golden age sui generis, and begin to see it instead as a period reflecting the persistence of trends and developments whose origins are to be found prior to the Second World War.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander J. Field, 2007. "The origins of US total factor productivity growth in the golden age," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 1(1), pages 63-90, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:afc:cliome:v:1:y:2007:i:1:p:63-90
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Field, Alexander J., 2007. "The equipment hypothesis and US economic growth," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 43-58, January.
    2. John G. Fernald, 2015. "Productivity and Potential Output before, during, and after the Great Recession," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 1-51.
    3. Field, Alexander J., 2009. "US economic growth in the gilded age," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 173-190, March.
    4. Konstantakis, Konstantinos N. & Michaelides, Panayotis G., 2017. "Technology and Business Cycles: A Schumpeterian Investigation for the USA," MPRA Paper 80636, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Demeulemeester, Jean-Luc, 2009. "Comment on "US Economic growth in the gilded age"," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 191-199, March.
    6. repec:dgr:rugggd:gd-108 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Alexander J. Field, 2008. "The impact of the Second World War on US productivity growth -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 61(3), pages 672-694, August.
    8. Herman De Jong & Pieter Woltjer, 2011. "Depression dynamics: a new estimate of the Anglo‐American manufacturing productivity gap in the interwar period," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(2), pages 472-492, May.
    9. Jong, H. de & Woltjer, P., 2009. "A Comparison of Real Output and Productivity for British and American Manufacturing in 1935," GGDC Research Memorandum GD-108, Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Productivity; TFP; US macroeconomic history; Manufacturing; Transportation;

    JEL classification:

    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N71 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-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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