32,100,000 vs. 24,524,000
Democratic Senators Represent 91,175,000 People. Republican Senators Represent 81,354,000 People

Economic History Seminar: October 30, 2006

Economic History Seminar: October 30, 2006

Alex Field, "U.S. Economic Growth in the Gilded Age"

Abstract: In the immediate postwar period, Moses Abramovitz and Robert Solow both examined data on output and input growth from the first half of the twentieth century and reached similar conclusions. In the twentieth century, in contrast with the nineteenth, a much smaller fraction of real economic growth could be swept back to the growth of inputs conventionally measured. The rise of the residual, they suggested, was an important distinguishing feature of twentieth century growth.

This paper identifies two problems with this claim. First, TFP growth virtually disappeared in the U.S. between 1973 and 1995. Second, TFP growth was in fact quite robust between the end of the Civil War and 1906, as was in fact a knowledged by Abramovitz in his 1993 EHA presidential address. Developing a revised macroeconomic narrative is essential in reconciling our interpretation of these numbers with what we know about scientific, technological, and organizational change during the Gilded Age.