Measures and Motivations: U.S. National Income and Product Estimates During the Great Depression and World War II
This paper explains the early U.S. Department of Commerce estimates of national income and product during the 1930s and 1940s, focusing on how both economic theory and the needs of policymakers influenced the methods and concepts used. The paper explores the debate between Simon Kuznets, author of Commerce’s first estimates of national income during the Great Depression, and Milton Gilbert, author of Commerce’s first estimates of gross national product (GNP) during World War II, over the meaning and measurement of the nation’s final product.
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