Growth of GDP per capita in the USA 1300 – 2100
The graph above comes from Is US economic growth over? Faltering innovation confronts the six headwinds by Robert J Gordon
. He points out that growth of GDP in the UK between 1300 and 1750 was extremely low, and the growth since then (measured using the USA’s figures) (the start of the industrial revolution) is probably a blip in the curve, which is already dropping back to the “norm” again.
Gordon sees three waves of innovation which fuelled the growth:
- Steam and railroads (from 1750 to 1830)
- Electricity, internal combustion engine, running water, indoor toilets, communications, entertainment, chemicals and petroleum (from 1870 to 1900)
- Computers, the web, and mobile phones (from 1960 to the present)
He thinks growth in GDP will return to pre 1800 levels unless we discover a new technology or resource to enable us to continue the rapid growth of the last 250 years.
It costs $5 to download the paper, or you can see a summary of it here.