Detroit Today: Has the economic growth that made the U.S. a global political force stopped?

Economic growth in the United States boomed for a long period of time leading up to the 2010s but hasn’t been quite the same since.

From 1870 until around 2010, economic growth and inventions exploded in the United States. The years when people truly shared these gains happened most prominently from 1938 to 1973.

During that time the middle class expanded, homeownership grew, and the influx of money helped create one of the most famous music experiences in American history. 

Listen: How economic growth spiked historically in the U.S.


Brad DeLong is an economic historian, professor at University of California Berkeley. He recently wrote the book “Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the Twentieth Century.”

DeLong says past economic growth was exponential, but a variety of environmental and societal reason make that same pace of growth difficult.

“We got more economic growth in 2.5 years from 1870 to 2010 than humanity had gotten in any century before 1500 and that made a huge difference,” says DeLong.

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