A New York Times Best Seller
In the century after the Civil War, an economic revolution improved the American standard of living in ways previously unimaginable. Electric lighting, indoor plumbing, home appliances, motor vehicles, air travel, air conditioning, and television transformed households and workplaces. With medical advances, life expectancy between 1870 and 1970 grew from 45 to 72 years. Weaving together a vivid narrative, historical anecdotes, and economic analysis, The Rise and Fall of American Growth provides an in-depth account of this momentous era. But has that era of unprecedented growth come to an end?
Gordon challenges the view that economic growth can or will continue unabated, and he demonstrates that the life-altering scale of innovations between 1870 and 1970 can't be repeated. He contends that the nation's productivity growth, which has already slowed to a crawl, will be further held back by the vexing headwinds of rising inequality, stagnating education, an aging population, and the rising debt of college students and the federal government. Gordon warns that the younger generation may be the first in American history that fails to exceed their parents' standard of living, and that rather than depend on the great advances of the past, we must find new solutions to overcome the challenges facing us.
A critical voice in the debates over economic stagnation, The Rise and Fall of American Growth is at once a tribute to a century of radical change and a harbinger of tougher times to come.
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©2016 Princeton University Press (P)2016 Audible, Inc.
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"The book is a great review of how we got to where we are today"
I loved the review of the industrial revolution and learning where various technological changes came from. His suggestions of how to increase American growth seemed pretty standard though. I was disappointed with that. It seemed like he just phoned in that part of the book. We've heard all those recommendations before. The book is worth the time though.
"Excellent Book, Too many charts for listening"
I enjoyed this book, particularly the comparisons of life in the US before and after 1870.There are too many charts and numbers in this book to always allow one to only listen. Book was written to be read "in person" with numbers and charts available for viewing and reviewing. The performance was technically well done, but somehow off-putting and slightly irritating. Still all in all I listened to the entire book and am happy that I bought it.
"Over-detailed, with no engaging message"
If you are looking to get a critical, deep and informed view of american economy in last century, you should look for another book. This book is not the type that will leave you with any food for thought.
For instance the book goes literally pages and pages throwing an absurd amount of numbers, dates, percentages,... to just show how AC units become smaller and lighter in a period of two decades. A simple fact like this needs only one sentence or two, and then the reader is ready to get the writers message, if there is any. What happens with this book is that reader (listener) goes on and on trying to focus on long paragraphs of chart description and numbers and dates, waiting for the writer to sum it up and get to a conclusion, a view point or a critical thought on the issue, only to get disappointed.
The only message that the author has (and he iterates it over and over in different chapters) is this: The growth (in other words improvement in people's lives) has been huge in 20th century because the departure point was near zero, so any increase felt huge, but now that we are fairly advanced it is almost impossible to come up with such growth ( such improvement in people's lives) in such a short amount of time. For example, in a matter of 2 decades in early 1900s, flush toilets came to nearly all houses and that dramatically improved life expectancy (say 5 years) by eliminating water borne diseases. But now in 2000s if we want to increase life expectancy by same 5 years (having same "growth") it is not as easy as making a toilet, now we have to do cancer research instead.
I basically doubt if this is an important or valuable point of view anyways, but even if it was, it could be well developed in a 3 page article and did not need a 700+ page book.
This book is only good for you if you love details of how people lived in early 20th century, how daily tasks were done, how people worked, what the wore, what they ate...and so forth. but if you are looking for food for thought, you will be disappointed.
"good book. OK audio book."
love economics and hearing about how the world has changed in the past 100 years. this book does rely on lots of charts and graphs so the listener is often lost following along but over all worth a listen.
"Is TFP enough in measuring growth?"
Thoroughly enjoyable history of drivers of American productivity and an excellent complement to Capital. Gordon address the fact that total factor productivity growth doesn't capture the impact of all technological improvements in life. With the rise of AI, we may see total hours per person decline alongside tepid growth in TFP, yet consumption of leisure and satisfaction rise. Economists will debate whether guaranteed universal incomes can compensate for a future of declining TFP growth. What other metrics should we evaluate alongside TFP and hours worked and the CPI in evaluating our progress over the next century?
"Majesterial view of 100 years of US growth"
Experience how a typical household's standard of living would change over 100 years. You'll feel like you were there, in 1870, 1920, 1940, 1970 as the country went through vast changes in technology and the organization of society. No happy ending though!
Excellent history - like time travel for reader. Should be required reading for public office seekers. Sound recommendations. On a par with Piketty. Practical, persuasive economics. Nobel folks should take note.
I would certainly recommend this book to a friend, yes. I chose this book because the topic of productivity, GDP growth and understanding standards of living is of interest to me. What I had not expected but really like about this book is its historical perspective - it is what I had been looking for in other books but never found.
I can only think to compare it to other history books that roll out historical events without giving such context as this book provides.
Mainly disliked the occasional mispronunciation.
It provided fantastic context for understanding life over the past 146 years. Many of the key points were repeated two or three times which I might normally consider padding but given that I listened to the book while driving and never for more than 25 minutes at a time it worked well for me.
The story is very informative.
The performer keeps referring to figures. It would be nice if we could see them. There is no PDF available.
An interesting argument backed up with plenty of facts and data. Not overly enjoyable though.
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