Caplan, Lindsey, Boudreaux: The "Slight Stagnation" Using Machine-Age National Income Accounting
Brink Lindsey writes on the Growthology blog about Tyler Cowen's e-book "The Great Stagnation," and Bryan Caplan comments here on Econlog in a post titled "Lindsey on the
Brink provides some data on real GDP per-capita in different periods back to 1820, and Bryan reproduces those data in his post. The charts above (unadjusted dollars and semi-log form) show annual real GDP per-capita back to the year 1800 using data from Global Financial Data (paid subscription required), and growth rates in real per-capita during different periods. The chart helps to support Brink's comment that:
And perhaps the national income accounting developed during The Machine Age, doesn't even accurately capture economic well-being very well in the new Information Age, a point made by Don Boudreaux:
"I have a different hypothesis: what has stagnated isn't the economy but, rather, economists' and statisticians' capacity to measure economic activity and its contribution to human well-being. Rather than stagnating, our economy and our wealth continue to grow so impressively that they are outstripping last-century's economic categories and measurement techniques."
Update: If median income is the appropriate metric, there sure hasn't been any stagnation there, see chart below of "real median income per household member" from 1967 to 2007. Between 1973 and 2007, median income per household member increased by almost 35% from $15,127 to $20,376 (in 2007 dollars).