25 Responses to “Long-term real growth in US GDP per capita 1871-2009”
It’s probably notable that the per capita GDP growth was stymied in the late 19th and early 20th century by the huge wave of immigration that caused the population and work force to swell.
It’s no coincidence that the rate of growth really took off once immigration quotas were slashed in the early 1930′s. It’s interesting to see how the mal-investment of the 1920′s was wiped out by the drop to the depths of the Great Depression.
My take from this chart, other than it should be in semi-log form, is that population growth combined with large leaps in productivity tend to negate possible gains in per capita GDP.
Another thought I had was could the depression of 1921 be compared on a chart with our recession of 2001? The boom following the 1921 depression could be seen in a similar light as the credit boom following the 2001 recession. The post 2007 and 1929 busts are quite similar in systemic magnitude.
I’ve always compared the 1929 Dow crash to the 2000 internet crash, but during the 1920′s something like 96% of the US population saw little change in their standard of living, which seems to make the period from 2000-2007 a decent comparison to that decade.
This view does not mesh with 70-year cycles, but I think it’s worthwhile to note from a productivity and personal income standpoint.