The Rise and Fall of American Growth

The Rise and Fall of American Growth

The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War

Book - 2016
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"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 between 1870 and 1970 grew from forty-five to seventy-two years. 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.
Publisher: Princeton :, Princeton University Press,, [2016]
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780691147727
0691147728
Branch Call Number: 339.420973 Gor
Characteristics: xii, 762 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm

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wwilkinson
Sep 13, 2017

It's a large book but makes for a fascinating read.

It really clarified what life was like in the recent past. I found it very eye opening to realize that our present lifestyles have only existed for about a hundred years; before that was extremely different.

This book will do two things for you. One it will inoculate you against romanticising the past. And two, you'll come to see that we are not in a modern-life steady-state. Technology change is ongoing, history is in play.

e
eappelbaum
Jul 16, 2017

This is an important and fascinating book, which won many rewards. Novels and movies about life in the 19th century usually show upper-class people, with an army of servants. The movies do not show the tons of manure on the streets. This book shows us life as it was for ordinary people, not something I would want to share. He describes the miraculous progress since 1870, such as electricity and radio. He has gloomy predictions for the future, which need not come to pass, if this country can muster the will to heal the sick, educate our young people, and prevent roasting the planet, among other recommendations. The writing is sometimes quite technical. I looked up in Google all the terms I do not know. "Log ratio" is the constant in the exponent for exponential growth. I do not understand how Gross Domestic Product is calculated, especially how to measure output in health and education. My only complaint is a reference to a book by Charles Murray, whose scholarship I do not respect. I recommend this book to everybody.

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rca8
Mar 25, 2016

May be one of the most important books on American social and economic history to appear in recent years. Paints a detailed and fascinating picture of how profoundly life changed in the century, 1870 to 1970. Makes the case that, in the decades to come, it will be difficult to match the level of economic growth Americans experienced up to 1970. May sound like heavy reading, but there is a lot in this book for curious general readers with an interest in American social history. I hadn't thought before about how how much water women had to carry into and out of the house, in the days before indoor plumbing. Or about the tons of manure horses deposited, every day, on urban streets.

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