Whence Comes Real Growth ?

In the course of checking whether Ramez Naam’s GDP figures (in Decoupling Growth From Energy and Carbon) were inflation adjusted, I came across nice looking site about visualizing economics. The graph there matches Naam’s and is clearly identified as illustrating an inflation-adjusted real per-capita GDP growth rate of about 2% per year (pretty consistently over about 150 years).  This led me to wonder if I am really twice as materially “well off” as I (or rather the social peer of my presentself) was in 1970. The quality of my life as  a whole is hard to compare but that of my communications and entertainment infrastructure is certainly well beyond the purchasing power of any normal member of society at that time, and it is indeed of real value to be able to easily and freely connect by video link with children half a world away. Then I had about a dozen or so close friends who I engaged with regularly in person and now I have about half of that; but also, through this website, I have an audience of as many thousands of eager readers. Yeah right! Actually 5994 of those readers are spambots and the half dozen real people who have ever commented here may barely make up for the less close half dozen of my more local friends.

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