Long-Term Growth of the U.S. Economy: Significance, Determinants, and Policy [Updated May 25, 2006] [open pdf - 147KB]
From the Document: "The rate of long-term economic growth is the salient measure of the nation's ability to steadily advance its material living standard. The pace of long-term economic growth is likely to be a center of attention in the decades just ahead, as the U.S. economy confronts the need to undertake unprecedentedly large generational transfers of income to pay for the retirement of the huge baby-boom generation as well as large transfers to the rest of the world to meet the debt service costs of the United States' large and still growing foreign debt. For the United States, the long-term growth of real GDP [Gross Domestic Product] 'per-capita' over the last 125 years has revealed remarkable steadiness, advancing decade after decade with only modest and temporary variation from a trend annual average rate of growth of 1.8%. Overall, the limited variability of the rate of U.S. long-term growth, despite major changes in economic conditions, as well as economic and social policies, suggests that U.S. long-term growth may be governed by forces other than typical economic variables and may not be easy to alter with conventional economic policy. Nevertheless, the evidence of some degree of medium-term variability suggests the possibility of using economic policy to exert some influence. It is important to recognize that even relatively small differences in the rate of economic growth will steadily cumulate to have large effects on the scale of improvement in future living standards. Such an improvement would make the burden of future transfers on workers less onerous."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32987
United States. Department of State, Foreign Press Centers, Bureau of Public Affairs: http://www.fpc.state.gov/