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#1 » by GEDC (β45) » December 6th, 2018, 10:13 am

In national income accounting, per capita output can be calculated using the following factors: output per unit of labor input (labor productivity), hours worked (intensity), the percentage of the working age population actually working (participation rate) and the proportion of the working-age population to the total population (demographics)......
"The rate of change of GDP/population is the sum of the rates of change of these four variables plus their cross products."

Increases in labor productivity (the ratio of the value of output to labor input) have historically been the most important source of real per capita economic growth. "In a famous estimate, MIT Professor Robert Solow concluded that technological progress has accounted for 80 percent of the long-term rise in U.S. per capita income, with increased investment in capital explaining only the remaining 20 percent."

Increases in productivity lower the real cost of goods. Over the 20th century the real price of many goods fell by over 90%.

Historical sources of productivity growth

Economic growth has traditionally been attributed to the accumulation of human and physical capital and the increase in productivity and creation of new goods arising from technological innovation. Further division of labour (specialization) is also fundamental to rising productivity.

Before industrialization technological progress resulted in an increase in the population, which was kept in check by food supply and other resources, which acted to limit per capita income, a condition known as the Malthusian trap. The rapid economic growth that occurred during the Industrial Revolution was remarkable because it was in excess of population growth, providing an escape from the Malthusian trap. Countries that industrialized eventually saw their population growth slow down, a phenomenon known as the demographic transition.

Increases in productivity are the major factor responsible for per capita economic growth – this has been especially evident since the mid-19th century. Most of the economic growth in the 20th century was due to increased output per unit of labor, materials, energy, and land (less input per widget). The balance of the growth in output has come from using more inputs. Both of these changes increase output. The increased output included more of the same goods produced previously and new goods and services.

During the Industrial Revolution, mechanization began to replace hand methods in manufacturing, and new processes streamlined production of chemicals, iron, steel, and other products. Machine tools made the economical production of metal parts possible, so that parts could be interchangeable.

During the Second Industrial Revolution, a major factor of productivity growth was the substitution of inanimate power for human and animal labor. Also there was a great increase in power as steam powered electricity generation and internal combustion supplanted limited wind and water power. Since that replacement, the great expansion of total power was driven by continuous improvements in energy conversion efficiency.

Other major historical sources of productivity were automation, transportation infrastructures (canals, railroads, and highways), new materials (steel) and power, which includes steam and internal combustion engines and electricity. Other productivity improvements included mechanized agriculture and scientific agriculture including chemical fertilizers and livestock and poultry management, and the Green Revolution. Interchangeable parts made with machine tools powered by electric motors evolved into mass production, which is universally used today.

Productivity lowered the cost of most items in terms of work time required to purchase. Real food prices fell due to improvements in transportation and trade, mechanized agriculture, fertilizers, scientific farming and the Green Revolution.

Great sources of productivity improvement in the late 19th century were railroads, steam ships, horse-pulled reapers and combine harvesters, and steam-powered factories. The invention of processes for making cheap steel were important for many forms of mechanization and transportation. By the late 19th century both prices and weekly work hours fell because less labor, materials, and energy were required to produce and transport goods. However, real wages rose, allowing workers to improve their diet, buy consumer goods and afford better housing.

Mass production of the 1920s created overproduction, which was arguably one of several causes of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Following the Great Depression, economic growth resumed, aided in part by increased demand for existing goods and services, such as automobiles, telephones, radios, electricity and household appliances.

New goods and services included television, air conditioning and commercial aviation (after 1950), creating enough new demand to stabilize the work week.The building of highway infrastructures also contributed to post World War II growth, as did capital investments in manufacturing and chemical industries. The post World War II economy also benefited from the discovery of vast amounts of oil around the world, particularly in the Middle East. By John W. Kendrick’s estimate, three-quarters of increase in U.S. per capita GDP from 1889 to 1957 was due to increased productivity.

Economic growth in the United States slowed down after 1973. In contrast growth in Asia has been strong since then, starting with Japan and spreading to Korea, China, the Indian subcontinent and other parts of Asia. In 1957 South Korea had a lower per capita GDP than Ghana, and by 2008 it was 17 times as high as Ghana's. The Japanese economic growth has slackened considerably since the late 1980s.

Productivity in the United States grew at an increasing rate throughout the 19th century and was most rapid in the early to middle decades of the 20th century. US productivity growth spiked towards the end of the century in 1996–2004, due to an acceleration in the rate of technological innovation known as Moore's law. After 2004 U.S. productivity growth returned to the low levels of 1972–96.

Intensity (hours worked)
The work week declined considerably over the 19th century. By the 1920s the average work week in the U.S. was 49 hours, but the work week was reduced to 40 hours (after which overtime premium was applied) as part of the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933.

Demographic changes
Demographic factors may influence growth by changing the employment to population ratio and the labor force participation rate. Industrialization creates a demographic transition in which birth rates decline and the average age of the population increases.

Women with fewer children and better access to market employment tend to join the labor force in higher percentages. There is a reduced demand for child labor and children spend more years in school. The increase in the percentage of women in the labor force in the U.S. contributed to economic growth, as did the entrance of the baby boomers into the workforce.
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