The Rise and Fall of American Growth Book Summary - The Rise and Fall of American Growth Book explained in key points

The Rise and Fall of American Growth summary

Robert J. Gordon

Brief summary

The Rise and Fall of American Growth by Robert J. Gordon explores the factors that drove the remarkable economic expansion in the U.S. from 1870 to 1970, and discusses the challenges and limitations to future growth.

Give Feedback
Table of Contents

    The Rise and Fall of American Growth
    Summary of key ideas

    The Golden Age of American Growth

    In The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Robert J. Gordon takes us on a journey through the 'special century' from 1870 to 1970, a period of unprecedented economic growth and technological progress in the United States. Gordon argues that this era was unique, marked by a series of revolutionary innovations that transformed every aspect of daily life, from transportation and communication to healthcare and entertainment.

    During this golden age, the American economy experienced a surge in productivity, driven by a series of 'great inventions' such as electricity, the internal combustion engine, and indoor plumbing. These innovations, Gordon argues, had a profound impact on the standard of living, allowing for a significant reduction in the amount of time and effort required to perform essential tasks, and leading to a substantial increase in leisure time.

    The End of the Golden Age

    However, Gordon contends that this period of exceptional growth came to an end around 1970. He attributes this slowdown to a variety of factors, including the waning impact of the great inventions, the rising costs of healthcare and education, and the demographic challenges posed by an aging population. He also highlights the negative effects of inequality, arguing that the benefits of economic growth have not been equally distributed across society.

    Furthermore, Gordon argues that the recent wave of technological innovations, such as smartphones and social media, while impressive, have not had the same transformative impact as the great inventions of the past. He suggests that these 'innovations of convenience' have not significantly increased productivity or improved living standards in the same way as their predecessors.

    The Future of American Growth

    Looking to the future, Gordon is pessimistic about the prospects for sustained economic growth in the United States. He argues that the headwinds of slowing productivity growth, rising inequality, and demographic challenges will continue to hinder the economy's performance. He also expresses concerns about the potential negative effects of climate change and the increasing burden of public and private debt.

    However, Gordon does not believe that the future is entirely bleak. He suggests that policymakers can take steps to address some of these challenges, such as investing in education and infrastructure, reforming healthcare and social security systems, and implementing policies to reduce inequality. He also emphasizes the importance of adapting to a slower pace of economic growth and redefining our measures of progress beyond GDP.

    Concluding Thoughts

    In conclusion, The Rise and Fall of American Growth offers a thought-provoking analysis of the historical trajectory of the American economy and a sobering assessment of its future prospects. Gordon's work challenges the prevailing narrative of endless economic growth and technological progress, and urges us to confront the reality of a more constrained future. While his conclusions may be controversial, his book provides a valuable perspective on the complex relationship between innovation, productivity, and living standards.

    Give Feedback
    How do we create content on this page?
    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is The Rise and Fall of American Growth about?

    The Rise and Fall of American Growth by Robert J. Gordon explores the remarkable period of economic expansion in the United States from 1870 to 1970, and analyzes the factors that drove it. Gordon argues that this era of unprecedented growth was fueled by a unique set of innovations and advancements, and that future economic progress is unlikely to reach the same levels. He delves into the impact of technological change, demographic shifts, and productivity growth, offering valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities facing the American economy.

    The Rise and Fall of American Growth Review

    The Rise and Fall of American Growth (2016) explores the pivotal transformations in the American economy from the late 19th to early 20th centuries. Here's why this book is a worthwhile read:

    • Provides insightful analysis of the factors driving economic growth and innovation during a transformative period in American history.
    • Offers a nuanced perspective on the challenges and limitations that influence long-term economic progress and societal development.
    • Through detailed research and statistical evidence, the book dissects key drivers shaping the past and present economic landscape, keeping readers engaged and informed.

    Who should read The Rise and Fall of American Growth?

    • Readers interested in understanding the historical and future trends of economic growth in the United States
    • Individuals seeking insights into the factors that drive innovation and productivity
    • Those who want to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the American economy

    About the Author

    Robert J. Gordon is an esteemed economist and author. He has made significant contributions to the field of macroeconomics and is known for his research on productivity and economic growth. Gordon's book, "The Rise and Fall of American Growth," explores the factors that drove the exceptional economic expansion in the United States from 1870 to 1970 and the challenges that the country faces in sustaining such growth in the future. His work provides valuable insights into the historical and technological forces that have shaped the American economy.

    Categories with The Rise and Fall of American Growth

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    31 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    The Rise and Fall of American Growth FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Rise and Fall of American Growth?

    The book explores the factors influencing America's past economic growth and challenges the prospect of sustaining such progress.

    How long does it take to read The Rise and Fall of American Growth?

    Reading time varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in a fraction of the time.

    Is The Rise and Fall of American Growth a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Rise and Fall of American Growth is a noteworthy read due to its comprehensive analysis of historical economic shifts.

    Who is the author of The Rise and Fall of American Growth?

    The author of The Rise and Fall of American Growth is Robert J. Gordon.

    What to read after The Rise and Fall of American Growth?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Rise and Fall of American Growth, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson
    • The Big Short by Michael Lewis
    • Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    • Civilization by Niall Ferguson
    • No Logo by Naomi Klein
    • The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich August von Hayek
    • Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    • Breakout Nations by Ruchir Sharma
    • The Great Degeneration by Niall Ferguson
    • Free to Choose by Milton Friedman