The Sources of growth in a Technologically Progressive Economy: The United States, 1899-1941

Bakker, G., Crafts, N. & Woltjer, P., Aug-2019, In : Economic Journal. 129, 622, p. 2267-2294 28 p.

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We develop new aggregate total factor productivity (TFP) growth estimates for the USA between 1899 and 1941, and sectoral estimates at the most disaggregated level so far, 38 industries.We include hard-to-measure services, and a refined measure of sectoral labour quality growth. The resulting data set supersedes Kendrick (1961), showing TFP growth lower than previously thought, broadly based across industries, and strongly variant intertemporally. The four ‘great inventions’ that Gordon (2016) highlighted were important but less dominant in TFP growth than their predecessors in the British industrial revolution. The findings also make it unlikely the 1930s had the twentieth century’s highest TFP growth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2267-2294
Number of pages28
JournalEconomic Journal
Issue number622
Early online date2-Apr-2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2019


  • productivity growth, total factor productivity, great inventions, spillovers, United States, history, GREAT-DEPRESSION, PRODUCTIVITY, EXPLANATION, INDUSTRY, CHINA

ID: 87511244