According to this piece in the Wall Street Journal, “Every presidential candidate should be asked what policies he or she would offer to increase the pace of U.S. productivity growth and to narrow the widening gap between winners and losers in the economy. Bob Gordon’s list is a good place to start.”
What does Gordon say about growth? For starters, he challenges the view that economic growth can or will continue unabated. So how would today’s presidential candidates meet this challenge? Read the Wall Street Journal article here:
In his new book, “The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War,” Northwestern University economist Bob Gordon argues that the century between 1870 and 1970 was exceptionally good for U.S. households (particularly 1920 to 1950) but that the years since 1970 have been disappointing and the future looks disappointing too.
His postscript includes a few thoughts that deserve immediate attention in today’s economic policy debates: Whatever the causes of the distressing slowdown in the growth of productivity (the amount of stuff produced for each hour of work) and the increase in inequality, what policies might both increase productivity and decrease inequality?
Many years ago, economist Art Okun argued that we had to choose between policies that increased efficiency and those that increased equity. Perhaps. But if there are policies that could achieve both, it’s time to try them.
Mr. Gordon lists several at the end of his book, some conventional and others less so.
To read what these policies are, continue reading the Wall Street Journal article here.
Robert J. Gordon is the Stanley G. Harris Professor in the Social Sciences at Northwestern University. His books include Productivity Growth, Inflation, and Unemployment and Macroeconomics. Gordon was included in the 2013 Bloomberg list of the nation’s most influential thinkers.