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Measures and Motivations: U.S. National Income and Product Estimates During the Great Depression and World War II


  • Kane, Richard


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Kane, Richard, 2012. "Measures and Motivations: U.S. National Income and Product Estimates During the Great Depression and World War II," MPRA Paper 44336, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:44336

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    gross national product; gross domestic product; final product; national income; nipas; national account; wartime planning; fiscal policy; wartime fiscal policy; inflationary gap; great depression; world war II; simon kuznets; milton gilbert; robert nathan; bureau of economic analysis; keynes; clark warburton; colin clark; richard stone; george jaszi;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • B0 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - General
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • C82 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Macroeconomic Data; Data Access
    • B22 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Macroeconomics
    • E01 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts
    • C19 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Other
    • B40 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - General

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