Problems of American Economic Growth

By Bruce R. Morris | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
THE AMERICAN RECORD

The growth of American1 incomes is the wonder of the world. With 7 per cent of the world's population, the United States produces about 40 per cent of the world's goods. 2 Starting as a struggling young nation at the end of the eighteenth century, the United States has be­come the world's foremost economic power. Measured in almost any terms conceivable, this economic growth is unprecedented--in the output of goods and services, the increase in leisure, per capita incomes, consumer expenditure on goods and services, and especially on durable goods, the total stock of material wealth. Education, medical services, and recreation are enjoyed far beyond that available in other countries. The living standard of the citizens is considerably above that in any other country. The story of the economic system can be summed up in one word--growth. There have been periods when growth seemed to have ended and periods of business depression when growth seemed to be going backward, but over-all growth has been persistent.

The speed of growth of the United States and especially that of the last one hundred years is in great contrast to that experienced elsewhere in the world up to 1850. One authority3 states that world economic growth in the one hundred years preceding 1930 was as great as that in the preceding 3500 years. In this hundred years the growth of the United States economy far outstripped that of the rest of the world. One needs think only of the difference in life in the United States in 1900 from that of today to see what profound changes have occurred. The amount of goods and services available per person was less than 40 per cent of that today. Many of the things we look upon as necessities or close to necessities were non-existent or of an inferior quality and owned only by a few--automobiles, radios, television sets,

____________________
1
The word "American" is used to refer to the United States although tech­nically we are only one group of many Americans. Any other collective name for the people of the United States is awkward or not generally used.
2
United Nations, Statistical Office, National Incomes in 70 Countries, 1949, Statistical Papers, Series E, No. 1, Table 4, New York, 1950, p. 29.
3
H. G. Moulton, Controlling Factors in Economic Development, Washington, D.C., 1949, p. 3.

-19-

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Problems of American Economic Growth
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Chapter One - Introduction 3
  • Chapter Two - The American Record 19
  • Chapter Three - The Supply of Raw Materials 39
  • Chapter Four - Population and the Supply of Workers 59
  • Chapter Five - The Supply of Capital 84
  • Chapter Six - Technological Change And Entrepreneurship 111
  • Chapter Seven - Consumer Demands 137
  • Chapter Eight - Government Expenditure 158
  • Chapter Nine - Relations with Other Economies 179
  • Chapter Ten - Problem of Balanced Growth 217
  • Bibliography 256
  • Chapter Twelve - Summary and Conclusions 257
  • Appendix A 262
  • Bibliography 266
  • Index 267
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