We can now rank the various decadal averages from the lowest to highest:Real US Per Capita GDP 1870–2001

(in 1990 international Geary-Khamis dollars)

Year | GDP | Growth rate

1870 | 2445 |

1871 | 2489 | 1.79%

1872 | 2524 | 1.40%

1873 | 2562 | 1.50%

1874 | 2601 | 1.50%

1875 | 2643 | 1.61%

1876 | 2686 | 1.62%

1877 | 2732 | 1.71%

1878 | 2780 | 1.75%

1879 | 2829 | 1.76%

1880 | 2880 | 1.80%

1881 | 2921 | 1.42%

1882 | 2963 | 1.43%

1883 | 3008 | 1.51%

1884 | 3056 | 1.59%

1885 | 3106 | 1.63%

1886 | 3158 | 1.67%

1887 | 3213 | 1.74%

1888 | 3270 | 1.77%

1889 | 3330 | 1.83%

1890 | 3392 | 1.86%

1891 | 3467 | 2.21%

1892 | 3728 | 7.52%

1893 | 3478 | -6.70%

1894 | 3314 | -4.71%

1895 | 3644 | 9.95%

1896 | 3504 | -3.84%

1897 | 3769 | 7.56%

1898 | 3780 | 0.29%

1899 | 4051 | 7.16%

1900 | 4091 | 0.98%

1901 | 4464 | 9.11%

1902 | 4421 | -0.96%

1903 | 4551 | 2.94%

1904 | 4410 | -3.09%

1905 | 4642 | 5.26%

1906 | 5079 | 9.41%

1907 | 5065 | -0.27%

1908 | 4561 | -9.95%

1909 | 5017 | 9.99%

1910 | 4964 | -1.05%

1911 | 5046 | 1.65%

1912 | 5201 | 3.07%

1913 | 5301 | 1.92%

1914 | 4799 | -9.46%

1915 | 4864 | 1.35%

1916 | 5459 | 12.2%

1917 | 5248 | -3.86%

1918 | 5659 | 7.83%

1919 | 5680 | 0.37%

1920 | 5552 | -2.25%

1921 | 5323 | -4.12%

1922 | 5540 | 4.07%

1923 | 6164 | 11.26%

1924 | 6233 | 1.11%

1925 | 6282 | 0.78%

1926 | 6602 | 5.09%

1927 | 6576 | -0.39%

1928 | 6569 | -0.10%

1929 | 6899 | 5.02%

1930 | 6213 | -9.94%

1931 | 5691 | -8.40%

1932 | 4908 | -13.75%

1933 | 4777 | -2.66%

1934 | 5114 | 7.05%

1935 | 5467 | 6.90%

1936 | 6204 | 13.48%

1937 | 6430 | 3.64%

1938 | 6126 | -4.72%

1939 | 6561 | 7.10%

1940 | 7010 | 6.84%

1941 | 8206 | 17.06%

1942 | 9741 | 18.70%

1943 | 11518 | 18.24%

1944 | 12333 | 7.07%

1945 | 11709 | -5.05%

1946 | 9197 | -21.45%

1947 | 8886 | -3.38%

1948 | 9065 | 2.01%

1949 | 8944 | -1.33%

1950 | 9561 | 6.89%

1951 | 10116 | 5.80%

1952 | 10316 | 1.97%

1953 | 10613 | 2.87%

1954 | 10359 | -2.39%

1955 | 10897 | 5.19%

1956 | 10914 | 0.15%

1957 | 10920 | 0.05%

1958 | 10631 | -2.64%

1959 | 11230 | 5.63%

1960 | 11328 | 0.87%

1961 | 11402 | 0.65%

1962 | 11905 | 4.41%

1963 | 12242 | 2.83%

1964 | 12773 | 4.33%

1965 | 13419 | 5.05%

1966 | 14134 | 5.32%

1967 | 14330 | 1.38%

1968 | 14863 | 3.71%

1969 | 15179 | 2.12%

1970 | 15030 | -0.98%

1971 | 15304 | 1.82%

1972 | 15944 | 4.18%

1973 | 16689 | 4.67%

1974 | 16491 | -1.18%

1975 | 16284 | -1.25%

1976 | 16975 | 4.24%

1977 | 17567 | 3.48%

1978 | 18373 | 4.58%

1979 | 18789 | 2.26%

1980 | 18577 | -1.12%

1981 | 18856 | 1.50%

1982 | 18325 | -2.81%

1983 | 18920 | 3.24%

1984 | 20123 | 6.35%

1985 | 20717 | 2.95%

1986 | 21236 | 2.50%

1987 | 21788 | 2.59%

1988 | 22499 | 3.26%

1989 | 23059 | 2.48%

1990 | 23201 | 0.61%

1991 | 22785 | -1.79%

1992 | 23169 | 1.68%

1993 | 23477 | 1.32%

1994 | 24130 | 2.78%

1995 | 24484 | 1.46%

1996 | 25066 | 2.37%

1997 | 25819 | 3.00%

1998 | 26619 | 3.09%

1999 | 27395 | 2.91%

2000 | 28129 | 2.67%

2001 | 27948 | -0.64%

(Maddison 2006: 87–89).

Average Decadal Real Per Capita Growth Rates

Average Growth Rate 1871–1880: 1.64%

Average Growth Rate 1881–1890: 1.65%

Average Growth Rate 1891–1900: 2.04%

Average Growth Rate 1901–1910: 2.13%

Average Growth Rate 1911–1920: 1.28%

Average Growth Rate 1921–1930: 1.27%

Average Growth Rate 1931–1940: 1.54%

Average Growth Rate 1941–1950: 3.87%

Average Growth Rate 1951–1960: 1.75%

Average Growth Rate 1961–1970: 2.88%

Average Growth Rate 1971–1980: 2.16%

Average Growth Rate 1981–1990: 2.26%

Average Growth Rate 1991–2000: 1.94%

Special Averages

Average Growth Rate 1871–1900: 1.78%

Average Growth Rate 1871–1914: 1.63%

Average Growth Rate 1873–1879: 1.64%

Average Growth Rate 1879 to 1896: 1.36%

Roaring 20s, Average Growth Rate 1920–1929: 2.04%

Recovery from Depression 1934–1940: 5.75%

Average Growth Rate 1948–1973: 2.30%.

If we remove those decades where the average decadal real per capita GDP growth rates were distorted by wars (1910s and 1940s), we obtain this list:(1)Average Growth Rate 1921–1930: 1.27%

(2)Average Growth Rate 1911–1920: 1.28%

(3)Average Growth Rate 1931–1940: 1.54%

(4)Average Growth Rate 1871–1880: 1.64%

(5)Average Growth Rate 1881–1890: 1.65%

(6)Average Growth Rate 1951–1960: 1.75%

(7)Average Growth Rate 1991–2000: 1.94%

(8)Average Growth Rate 1891–1900: 2.04%

(9)Average Growth Rate 1901–1910: 2.13%

(10)Average Growth Rate 1971–1980: 2.16%

(11)Average Growth Rate 1981–1990: 2.26%

(12)Average Growth Rate 1961–1970: 2.88%

(13)Average Growth Rate 1941–1950: 3.87%.

Some observations:(1)Average Growth Rate 1921–1930: 1.27%

(2)Average Growth Rate 1931–1940: 1.54%

(3)Average Growth Rate 1871–1880: 1.64%

(4)Average Growth Rate 1881–1890: 1.65%

(5)Average Growth Rate 1951–1960: 1.75%

(6)Average Growth Rate 1991–2000: 1.94%

(7)Average Growth Rate 1891–1900: 2.04%

(8)Average Growth Rate 1901–1910: 2.13%

(9)Average Growth Rate 1971–1980: 2.16%

(10)Average Growth Rate 1981–1990: 2.26%

(11)Average Growth Rate 1961–1970: 2.88%.

(1)the 1870s stands out as the third worst peacetime decade of all time. Only those decades affected by the Great Depression (1920s and 1930s) were worse.

(2)The 1960s, the era when Keynesian macroeconomic management of the US economy was at its height, stands out as the best decade.

(3)The 1980s was the second best decade. But then Reagan’s economic policy was merely Keynesian after 1982, so this is not that big a surprise.

(4)Even the 1970s – the era of the oil shocks and stagflation crisis – had a respectable real per capita GDP growth rate of 2.16%, and was the third highest rate.

(5)If one defines the roaring ’20s as the 1920–1929, its average growth rate was 2.04%

(6)The average real per capita GDP growth rate from 1871–1914 during the gold standard era was 1.63%. The era of classic US Keynesianism (1948–1973) had a rate of 2.30%. The latter period emerges as the clear winner.

**BIBLIOGRAPHY**

Balke, N. S., and R. J. Gordon, 1989. “The Estimation of Prewar Gross National Product: Methodology and New Evidence,”

*Journal of Political Economy*97.1: 38–92.

Maddison, Angus. 2003.

*The World Economy: Historical Statistics*. OECD Publishing, Paris.

LK,

ReplyDeleteWhy do you continue to use GDP data from the 19th century which you say in one of your earlier blog is highly questionable? Would it not be better to say that we do not have reliable date from that time period and therefore cannot draw any reliable conclusions from the data?

Balke and Gordon's estimates have a better claim to reliability than the Kuznets-Kendrick series.

DeleteWhile hardly definitive, Balke and Gordon's data is the starting point, and when supplemented with Davis's, this is what a responsible economic historian would use, making clear to readers that the data is still open to challenge.

What alternative do you propose? Using the clearly wrong data of Kuznets-Kendrick? Making things up?

The alternative is to give an honest answer; we did not have reliable data from that time period and therefore cannot draw any reliable conclusions from the data.

ReplyDeleteHi,

ReplyDeleteWas just wondering what the 2001-2010 decade statistics show.