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The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War

Robert J. Gordon
Format
Book
Published
Princeton : Princeton University Press, [2016]
Language
English
Series
The Princeton Economic History of the Western World
Princeton Economic History of the Western World
ISBN
9780691147727, 0691147728
Summary
Examines the economic growth of the United States since the Civil War, arguing that the rate of growth between 1870 and 1970 cannot be repeated and that a number of issues are further stagnating the already slow rate of productivity growth.
"In the century after the Civil War, an economic revolution improved the American standard of living in ways previously unimaginable. Electric lighting, indoor plumbing, home appliances, motor vehicles, air travel, air conditioning, and television transformed households and workplaces. With medical advances, life expectancy grew from forty-five to seventy-two years between 1870 and 1970. Weaving together a vivid narrative, historical anecdotes, and economic analysis, The Rise and Fall of American Growth provides an in-depth account of this momentous era. But has that era of unprecedented growth come to an end? Gordon challenges the view that economic growth can or will continue unabated, and he demonstrates that the life-altering scale of innovations between 1870 and 1970 can't be repeated. He contends that the nation's productivity growth, which has already slowed to a crawl, will be further held back by the vexing headwinds of rising inequality, stagnating education, an aging population, and the rising debt of college students and the federal government. Gordon warns that the younger generation may be the first in American history that fails to exceed their parents' standard of living, and that rather than depend on the great advances of the past, we must find new solutions to overcome the challenges facing us. A critical voice in the debates over economic stagnation, The Rise and Fall of American Growth is at once a tribute to a century of radical change and a harbinger of tougher times to come."--Publisher's description.
Contents
  • Introduction: the ascent and descent of growth
  • Part I. 1870-1940--The great inventions create a revolution inside and outside the home. The starting point: life and work in 1870
  • What they ate and wore and where they bought it
  • The American home: from dark and isolated to bright and networked
  • Motors overtake horses and rail: inventions and incremental improvements
  • From telegraph to talkies: information, communication, and entertainment
  • Nasty, brutish, and short: illness and early death
  • Working conditions on the job and at home
  • Taking and mitigating risks: consumer credit, insurance, and the government
  • Entr'acte. The midcentury shift from revolution to evolution
  • Part II. 1940-2015--The Golden Age and the early warnings of slower growth. Fast food, synthetic fibers, and split-level subdivisions: the slowing transformation of food, clothing, and housing
  • See the USA in your Chevrolet or from a plane flying high above
  • Entertainment and communications from Milton Berle to the iPhone
  • Computers and the internet from the mainframe to Facebook
  • Antibiotics, CT scans, and the evolution of health and medicine
  • Work, youth, and retirement at home and on the job
  • Entr'acte. Toward an understanding of slower growth
  • Part III. The sources of faster and slower growth. The great leap forward from the 1920s to the 1950s: what set of miracles created it?
  • Innovation: can the future match the great inventions of the past?
  • Inequality and the other headwinds: long-run American economic growth slows to a crawl
  • Postscript: America's growth achievement and the path ahead.
Description
xii, 762 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Notes
Includes bibliographical references (pages 667-743) and index.
Technical Details
  • Access in Virgo Classic
  • Staff View

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    520
      
      
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