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.
Robert J. Gordon is professor in social sciences at Northwestern University. His books include Productivity Growth, Inflation, and Unemployment and Macroeconomics. Gordon was included in the 2016 Bloomberg list of the nation's most influential thinkers.
"The Rise and Fall of American Growth. . . is the Thomas Piketty-esque economic must read of the year."--Rana Foroohar, Time
"This is a book well worth reading--a magisterial combination of deep technological history, vivid portraits of daily life over the past six generations and careful economic analysis. . . . [The Rise and Fall of American Growth] will challenge your views about the future; [and] it will definitely transform how you see the past."--Paul Krugman, New York Times Book Review
"[An] authoritative examination of innovation through the ages."--Neil Irwin, New York Times
"Robert Gordon has written a magnificent book on the economic history of the United States over the last one and a half centuries. . . . The book is without peer in providing a statistical analysis of the uneven pace of growth and technological change, in describing the technologies that led to the remarkable progress during the special century, and in concluding with a provocative hypothesis that the future is unlikely to bring anything approaching the economic gains of the earlier period. . . . If you want to understand our history and the economic dilemmas faced by the nation today, you can spend many a fruitful hour reading Gordon's landmark study."--William D. Nordhaus, New York Review of Books
"Mr. Gordon uses exhaustive historic data to buttress his thesis."--Greg Ip, Wall Street Journal
"[The Rise and Fall of American Growth] is full of wonder for the miraculous things that America has accomplished."--Edward Glaeser, Wall Street Journal
"A masterful study to be read and reread by anyone interested in today's political economy."--Kirkus
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Robert J. Gordon: