NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

RECONSIDERING EXPECTATIONS OF ECONOMIC GROWTH AFTER

Robert W. Fogel

NBER Working Paper No. 11125
Issued in February 2005
NBER Program(s):   DAE   EFG

At the close of World War II, there were wide-ranging debates about the future of economic developments. Historical experience has since shown that these forecasts were uniformly too pessimistic. Expectations for the American economy focused on the likelihood of secular stagnation; this topic continued to be debated throughout the post-World War II expansion. Concerns raised during the late 1960s and early 1970s about rapid population growth smothering the potential for economic growth in less developed countries were contradicted when during the mid- and late-1970s, fertility rates in third world countries began to decline very rapidly. Predictions that food production would not be able to keep up with population growth have also been proven wrong, as between 1961 and 2000 calories per capita worldwide have increased by 24 percent, despite the doubling of the global population. The extraordinary economic growth in Southeast and East Asia had also been unforeseen by economists.

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Published: Robert W. Fogel, 2005. "Reconsidering Expectations of Economic Growth After World War II from the Perspective of 2004," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan Journals, vol. 52(si), pages 2.

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