The Rise and Fall of American Growth, by Robert J. Gordon

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Robert J. Gordon is one of the world’s leading experts on inflation, unemployment, and productivity growth. His essay, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, was originally released in January 2016. Learn more about the author, his book, as well as ratings and reviews on the latter.

Robert J. Gordon is Stanley G. Harris Professor in the Social Sciences and Professor of Economics at Northwestern University.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, after which he attended Oxford University in England on a Marshall Scholarship. He received his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He taught at Harvard and the University of Chicago before moving to Northwestern in 1973, where he has taught for more than thirty years and where he was the chair of the Department of Economics from 1992 to 1996.

Professor Gordon’s recent research includes work on the rise and fall of the New Economy, the U.S. productivity growth revival, and the recent stalling of European productivity growth. He is the author of several books, more than 100 scholarly articles, and more than 60 published comments on the research of others.

He is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a research fellow of the Centre for Economic Policy Research in London, a Guggenheim Fellow, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the Econometric Society.

Let’s discover today his essay, The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World), originally published in January 2016.


Winner of the 2017 PROSE Award in U.S. History, Association of American Publishers

Winner of the 2017 Excellence in Financial Journalism Book Award, New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants

Shortlisted for the 2016 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

Longlisted for the 2016 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature, McGill University

In the century after the Civil War, an economic revolution improved the American standard of living in ways previously unimaginable. Electric lighting, indoor plumbing, motor vehicles, air travel, and television transformed households and workplaces. But has that era of unprecedented growth come to an end? Weaving together a vivid narrative, historical anecdotes, and economic analysis, The Rise and Fall of American Growth challenges the view that economic growth will continue unabated, and demonstrates that the life-altering scale of innovations between 1870 and 1970 cannot be repeated. Robert Gordon contends that the nation’s productivity growth will be further held back by the headwinds of rising inequality, stagnating education, an aging population, and the rising debt of college students and the federal government, and that we must find new solutions. A critical voice in the most pressing debates of our time, 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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