A new set of historical national accounts for Espana constructs estimates of output and depletion from 1850 onwards, which agency we can estimate the evolution of GDP per capita and proletariat productivity during this amplitude. This column argues that the info demonstrates that GDP per capita catching long-run trends in welfare in Espana, but not short and medium run trends.
By Leandro Prados de la Escosura*
What does GDP de facto mean? Is it a measure of material well-being or simply a measure of output? A modern wave of critical publications (Coyle 2014, Masood 2016, Philipsen 2015, centre of others) reject any pretence that GDP catching anything other than creation, which it captures incompletely. They sustain heightened scrutiny that goes backmost to the inception of national accounts (Engerman 1997, Nordhaus and Economist 1972).
This is not a new claim. Economists bear long viewed GDP as a crude bill of economic progress and an even poorer amount of welfare (Beckerman 1968, Syrquin 2016).
Those who assert that GDP is a flawed measure of efficient welfare nevertheless accept that GDP per capita is greatly correlated with non-monetary amount of well-being (Oulton 2012, Architect and Klenow 2016).
Can we, then, rely on verifiable estimates of GDP to assess output and info welfare in the long run? In the early life of modern economic quantification, Economist (1952: 16-17), noticed the “tendency to shrivel from long-term approximates” on the grounds of “the increasing deficiency of the data as one goes back in abstraction and to the increasing discontinuity in social and fiscal conditions”. Cautious historians advocate we restrict the use of GDP to societies that had unwasteful recording mechanisms, relatively centralized economic activities, and a small existence sector (Hudson 2016, Deng and O’Brien 2016). But should the quality of data be “judged in terms of the employs of the results” (Kuznets, 1952: 17)?
A new dataset
In this example, I present a new set of historical national gives a reason for for Spain, with GDP estimates from the involve and supply side, to investigate its original economic growth (Prados de la Escosura 2016b).
I hold reconstructed historical output and depletion series for the century prior to the debut of modern national accounts. The new broadcast are built from painstaking explore using highly disaggregated news.
Available national accounts hold been spliced through interposition, as an alternative to conventional retropolation, to get new continuous series for 1958-2015 (Prados de la Escosura 2014 and 2016a). The broadcast for the ‘pre-statistical era’ have been coupled to the spliced national accounts, as long as yearly series for GDP and its components from 1850 until 2015. Ultimately, based on new population and labour conscription estimates, I calculated GDP per capita and parturiency productivity. You can access the dataset at protocol://espacioinvestiga.org/bbdd-chne/?lang=en)
What do the collection show?
Aggregate economic force multiplied 50 times ‘tween 1850 and 2015, at an average additive growth rate of 2.4% per gathering (Table 1). This happened in four-spot main phases: 1850-1950 (with a budge to a lower level during the National War, 1936-1939), 1951-1974, 1975-2007, and 2008-2015, in which the flowering trend varied significantly (Bod 1).
Table 1. GDP Growth and its Components, 1850-2015 (%) (principles yearly logarithmic rates)
But to what size did more goods and services impact the living conditions of individuals? Because population trebled, real GDP per capita skilled nearly a 16-fold step-up, growing at an annual rate of 1.7%. This advance took place at an uneven tread. Per-capita GDP grew at 0.7% betwixt 1850 and 1950, doubling its primary level. During the next tail of a century, the ‘Golden Age’, growth was vii times as fast, so by 1974 mode per capita was 3.6 times higher than in 1950. Tho’ economic progress slowed pile from 1975 onwards, and the standard of GDP per capita growth shrank to one-one-half that of the Golden Age, the level of GDP per capita aggrandized than doubled between 1974 and 2007. The Big league Recession (2008-13) shrank per capita funds by 11% but, by 2015, its level was much 83% higher than at the bout of Spain’s EU accession (1985).
Figure 1. Positive GDP and GDP per Head, 1850-2015 (2010=100) (logs).
What created much a remarkable rise? GDP per capita upon be contingent on the amount of work per capita, and how fat this effort is. GDP per capita and toil productivity (measured as GDP per hour worked) evolved well-adjusted over 1850-2015. Although the extent of hours worked per capita shrank, employment productivity grew at a faster walk –it increased 23-plica against 16-fold for GDP per capita (Amount 2). The decline in hours worked per capita was goaded by a reduction in hours worked per full occupied worker, which knock from 2,800 hours per yr in mid-19th century to less than 1,900 in the other 21st century. So long-run gains in yield per capita are entirely attributable to fruitfulness gains, with phases of accelerating GDP per capita, much as the 1920s or the Golden Age (1950-1974), coordinated universal time those of faster labour fruitfulness growth.
Figure 2. Per Capita GDP and its Components, 1850-2015 (2010=100) (logs).
A finisher look at the last four decades disclose significant discrepancies, with step of acceleration in labour productivity at the twin time as GDP per capita slowdown, and vise versa (Table 1, Body B). Thus, periods of sluggish (1975-84) or antagonistic (2008-13) GDP per capita growth paralleled incident of vigorous or recovering productivity flowering, although in the first case, the ‘transition to commonwealth’ decade, labour productivity outgrowth the sharp contraction in hours worked – principally resulting from unemployment – and prevented a turn down in GDP per capita. Conversely, in the years ‘tween Spain’s accession to the European Joining (1985) and the Great Recession (2007), thither were substantial GDP per capita obtain while labour productivity slowed kill. Thus, during the three decades astern Spain’s accession to the EU, in which grew at 3 per centime per year, doubling its GDP per capita, the step-up in hours worked per capita contributed else than half of it. It can, then, be over that since the mid-1970s the Romance economy has been unable to unify employment creation and productivity flowering, with the implication that sectors that dilated and created jobs (mostly interpretation and services) were less booming in attracting investment and technological instauration.
Falling behind, catching up … and descending back again?
Spanish far-off-run growth has been like that of occidental nations, though Spain’s equable of GDP per capita appears systematically lessen (Figure 3).
Figure 3. Spain’s Relative Real Per Capita GDP (2011 EKS $) (logs)
The rapidity of growth before 1950 was relatively slow in Spain. Sluggish about over 1883-1913, followed by a failing take advantage of its neutrality in Star War I to catch up, partly account for it. Moreover, the progress achieved in the 1920s was outweighed by Espana’s short-lived recovery from the Imprint, which was brought to a halt by Laical War (1936-39), and by a longer and weaker announce-war reconstruction than in other occidental European countries after 1945. In this manner, Spain fell behind betwixt 1850 and 1950.
The situation improved betwixt 1950 and 2007. The Golden Age, largely since 1960, stands out as a time of outstanding performance and catch-up to the fresh nations. Steady, although slower, enlargement after the transition to democracy senility (1975-84), allowed Spain to cell catching up until 2007. The Abundant Recession reversed the trend, notwithstanding it is too soon to determine whether we are in a new folio of falling behind.
So Spain’s affiliated position to western countries has evolved on a wide-U shape, deteriorating to 1950 (exclude for the 1870s and 1920s) and recovering thenceforth (except for the episodes of the transition to republic and the Great Recession). Thus, at the inauguration of the 21st century Spanish real GDP per capita delineate a proportion of US and Germany’s income companion to what it was in the mid-19th century, and to that of the 1870s with respect to France and Italy, although it had importantly improved with respect to the UK.
But does GDP per capita catch welfare?
A major objection to GDP per capita is that it get no account of income distribution. Physique 4 compares GDP per capita with the Sen good fortune measure, namely, inequality-familiarized income per capita (GDP per capita, multiplied by 1 negative the Gini). Except for the early 20th 100 – especially the 1910s and 1920s and in the dilatory 1940s and early mid-1950s, when the Sen good level fell behind GDP per capita – both size exhibit similar long-run effectuation.
Figure 4. Real Per Capita GDP and Sen Well-being, 1850-2015 (2010=100) (logs)
Added objection to GDP per capita is that it nots succeed to incorporate non-income dimensions of chipper-being. Critics of GDP as a measure of good claim the Human Development Power as a better alternative (Coyle 2014). Allied long-run trends are observed in GDP per capita and Anthropoid Development (Figure 5), though improvements in the Historical Index of Busyness Development were more energetic between 1880 and 1950 and slower thenceforth. There is a large discrepancy ‘tween the two measures in the 1930s and 1940s, when thrum development thrived, driven by activity expectancy gains – a result of the medicine transition and broadening primary teaching, while GDP per capita contracted as outcome of the Depression and the Civil War, and its autarchic fog.
Figure 5. Real Per Capita GDP (2010=100) (logs) and Verifiable Index of Human Development (excluding mode dimension) (multiplied by 1000 and transformed into logs), 1850-2007
We can agree on this evidence that that GDP per capita apprehension long-run trends in welfare in Espana, but not the short and medium run trends.
Active the author:
* Leandro Prados de la Escosura, Academician of Economic History, Universidad Carlos III, Madrid; Test Associate, CAGE; Honorary Maddison Chairwoman, University of Groningen; and CEPR Trial Fellow
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