The rate of economic growth has slowed over the past two decades. Structural changes in the labor force could be to blame.
America’s economic growth appears to have sputtered in the 21st century. While America’s real gross domestic product grew at a blistering rate of 4.2% a year between 1950 and 1970, real GDP growth has increased by only 2% annually since 2000. A sense of decline infects our national mood.
But what if our apparent stagnation is illusory and reflects success more than failure? Dietrich Vollrath’s “Fully Grown: Why a Stagnant Economy Is a Sign of Success” makes a coherent and compelling argument that American productivity growth has only mildly faltered. If Mr. Vollrath is right, perhaps we should worry less about the overall level of American dynamism and more about why the median worker’s real weekly earnings rose by only 6% from 1979 to 2019.
Edward L. Glaeser is the Glimp professor of economics at Harvard University, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and contributing editor at City Journal.
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