The golden years of prosperity

“The years 1950 to 1973 were a golden age of unparalleled prosperity,” according to Angus Maddison in his 2007 book, Contours of the World Economy.

“World per capital GDP rose at an annual rate of near 3 per cent, world GDP about 5 per cent and exports almost 8 per cent. Performance was better in all regions than in any earlier phase. There was a significant degree of convergence in per capita income and productivity, with most regions growing faster than the US (the lead economy).

“After 1973, there was a marked slowdown. Global growth was cut by half. There was substantial divergence between regions and performance in many of them was below potential.” (pages 71 and 72.)

I am curious about the timing of the end of the golden age – 1973.

In 1972 The Club of Rome published the book The Limits to Growth which suggested that economic growth would be slowed by limited resources. At the time the book was controversial but maybe the authors were not so far off the mark.

Recently we noted a report by the World Wildlife Fund that the world’s population is currently using resources at 150 per cent of the sustainable level. I wonder if we were using resources at 100 percent level about 1973?

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