International Comparisons of Real Product, 1820-1990: An Alternative Data Set
In this paper a new set of current price estimates of per capita income, adjusted for each currency's purchasing power, is presented for more than twenty countries over the last one and a half centuries. A short-cut method is used to derive current price comparisons for countries and periods in which aggregate PPPs are not available. Current price estimates of PPP-adjusted GDP appear to be more economically sound than constant price figures as economic agents react to current, not to constant, prices and, therefore, would allow us more appropiate cross-country comparisons of welfare and productivity. Moreover, the new estimates tend to mitigate the index number problem by rendering less remote benchmarks for constant price comparisons than widely used datasets at constant 1985 or 1990 "international" dollars. Country rankings in the new data set are different from those provided by earlier cross-country comparisons and among the new findings the earlier US leadership and the closer position of Britain and France over the long 191h century can be highlighted.
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