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The Estimation of Prewar Gross National Product: Methodology and New Evidence


  • Balke, Nathan S
  • Gordon, Robert J


This paper develops new methodology for the estimation of prewar gross national product (GNP), taps previously unused data sources, an d develops new estimates for the periods 1869-1908 and 1869-1928. Primary among the new data sources are direct measures of output in the transportation, communications, and construction sectors, and estimates of the consumer price index. New measures of real GNP, nominal GNP, and the GNP deflator are developed. The new estimates of real GNP are as volatile, on average, over the business cycle as the traditional Kuznets-Kendrick series, but dampen the amplitude of som e cycles while raising the amplitude of others. The new estimates of th e GNP deflator are distinctly less volatile than the traditional series and, in fact, no more volatile than those in the postwar period. Copyright 1989 by University of Chicago Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Balke, Nathan S & Gordon, Robert J, 1989. "The Estimation of Prewar Gross National Product: Methodology and New Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(1), pages 38-92, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:97:y:1989:i:1:p:38-92
    DOI: 10.1086/261593

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