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The Estimation of Prewar GNP: Methodology and New Evidence

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  • Nathan S. Balke
  • Robert J. Gordon

Abstract

The paper develops new methodology for the estimation of prewar GNP, taps previously unused data sources, and develops new estimates for the periods 1869-08 and 1869-28. 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 aeries but dampen the amplitude of some cycles while raising the amplitude of others. The new estimates of the GNP deflator are distinctly less volatile than the traditional series and in fact no more volatile than in the postwar period.

Suggested Citation

  • Nathan S. Balke & Robert J. Gordon, 1988. "The Estimation of Prewar GNP: Methodology and New Evidence," NBER Working Papers 2674, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2674
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gordon, Robert J, 1980. "A Consistent Characterization of a Near-Century of Price Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(2), pages 243-249, May.
    2. J. Bradford DeLong & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "The Changing Cyclical Variability of Economic Activity in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change, pages 679-734, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Milton Friedman & Anna J. Schwartz, 1963. "A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie63-1, Juni.
    4. Romer, Christina D, 1986. "Is the Stabilization of the Postwar Economy a Figment of the Data?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 314-334, June.
    5. Robert E. Lipsey & Doris Preston, 1966. "Source Book of Statistics Relating to Construction," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number lips66-1, Juni.
    6. Moses Abramovitz, 1964. "Evidences of Long Swings in Aggregate Construction Since the Civil War," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number abra64-1, Juni.
    7. Engle, Robert F, 1982. "Autoregressive Conditional Heteroscedasticity with Estimates of the Variance of United Kingdom Inflation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 987-1007, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Victor Zarnowitz & Phillip Braun, 1989. "Major Macroeconomic Variables and Leading Indexes: Some Estimates of Their Interrelations, 1886-1982," NBER Working Papers 2812, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. J. Bradford De Long & Lawrence H. Summers, 1988. "On the Existence and Interpretation of the "Unit Root" in U.S. GNP," NBER Working Papers 2716, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Federico, Giovanni, 2005. "Not Guilty? Agriculture in the 1920s and the Great Depression," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(4), pages 949-976, December.
    4. J. Bradford De Long & Lawrence H. Summers, "undated". "On the Existence and Interpretation of a `Unit Root' in U.S. Real GDP," J. Bradford De Long's Working Papers _137, University of California at Berkeley, Economics Department.
    5. Gordon, Robert J, 2000. "Interpreting the 'One Big Wave' in US Long-Term Productivity Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 2608, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Robert J. Gordon, 2000. "Interpreting the "One Big Wave" in U.S. Long-Term Productivity Growth," NBER Working Papers 7752, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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