Nathan Balke

Department of Economics
Southern Methodist University
Dallas, TX 75275
Tel: 214/644-5476

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org

NBER Working Papers and Publications

August 1988The Estimation of Prewar GNP: Methodology and New Evidence
with Robert J. Gordon: w2674
The paper develops new methodology for the estimation of prewar GNP, taps previously unused data sources, and develops new estimates for the periods 1869-08 and 1869-28. Primary among the new data sources are direct measures of output in the transportation, communications, and construction sectors, and estimates of the consumer price index. New measures of real GNP, nominal GNP, and the GNP deflator are developed. The new estimates of real GNP are as volatile on average over the business cycle as the traditional Kuznets-Kendrick aeries but dampen the amplitude of some cycles while raising the amplitude of others. The new estimates of the GNP deflator are distinctly less volatile than the traditional series and in fact no more volatile than in the postwar period.

Published: "The Estimation of Prewar Gross National Product: Methodology and New Evidence." From Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 97, No. 1, pp. 38-92,(February 1989).

August 1986The Estimation of Prewar GNP Volatility, 1869-1938
with Robert J. Gordon: w1999
New evidence is provided to assess the recent controversy regarding the volatility of real economic activity before 1929 relative to the period since World War II. Some recent work claims that the longstanding stylized fact of greater prewar volatility is "spurious". In contrast, this paper reconfirms the greater amplitude of business fluctuations prior to the Great Depression. The basic technique is the regression method, which estimates equations for real GNP during 1909-38, with one or more explanatory variables for components of GNP, and then uses the estimated coefficients to "backcast" real GNP or the period 1869-1908. The paper contains an extensive examination of the sensitivity of these regression indexes to alternative dependent variables, sample periods, detrending methods, and...

Published: Published as "The Estimation of Prewar Gross National Product: Methodologyand New Evidence", JPE, Vol. 97, no. 1 (1989): 38-92.

1986Appendix B: Historical Data
with Robert J. Gordon
in The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change, Robert J. Gordon, editor
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us