By Alexander J. Field Ph.D.
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Extra info for A Great Leap Forward: 1930s Depression and U.S. Economic Growth
Material standard of living? Finally (though this reaction would have been more common in March 2000 than in March 2011), what of the information technology boom of the late twentieth century? Surely all else pales before that. To each of these questions this book responds with empirically supported answers. The 1920s did benefit from transformative organizational and technological progress involving both new products (especially the automobile and electrical appliances) and a revolution in factory organization and design in which traditional methods of distributing power internally via metal shafts and leather belts were replaced with electrical wires and small electric motors.
Economic growth—and cycles—has, between 2007 and 2010, become even more apparent. 9 Part One A NEW GROWTH NARRATIVE 1 THE MOST TECHNOLOGICALLY PROGRESSIVE DECADE OF THE CENTURY It was not principally the Second World War that laid the foundation for postwar prosperity. It was technological progress across a broad frontier of the American economy during the 1930s. S. 1 The hypothesis entails two primary claims: first, during this period businesses and government contractors implemented or adopted on a more widespread basis a wide range of new technologies and practices, resulting in the highest rate of peacetime peak-to-peak TFP growth in the century, and second, the Depression years produced advances that replenished and expanded the stock of unexploited or only partially exploited techniques, thus providing the basis for much of the labor and total factor productivity improvement in the 1950s and 1960s.
In Gordon (2000b), however, he continued to emphasize, consonant with the Abramovitz/David view, that “In the United States, in comparison to Japan and Europe, a substantial part of the great leap in the level of multifactor productivity had already occurred by the end of World War II” (Gordon 2000b, p. 1). It was the data underlying what was then recent economic history that so surprised Robert Solow in his 1957 analysis, for which, in part, he received the Nobel Prize. Solow’s work contributed to the development of the concept of the residual and its interpretation: since real output was growing much faster than could be explained by the growth of inputs conventionally measured, he (as did Abramovitz and others) suggested that the unexplained growth should be identified statistically with the contribution of a number of factors, the most important of which was technical change.