The power of growth
I've decided to become an Aughts revisionist: The decade just wasn't that bad. Particularly not worldwide. China and India had explosive economic growth, of course. But Brazil, Indonesia and a lot of other populous, poor countries had growth ranging from steady to good. And as Tyler Cowen says, we shouldn't dismiss that:
One lesson from all of this is that steady economic growth is an underreported news story — and to our own detriment. As human beings, we are prone to focus on very dramatic, visible events, such as confrontations with political enemies or the personal qualities of leaders, whether good or bad. We turn information about politics and economics into stories of good guys versus bad guys and identify progress with the triumph of the good guys. In the process, it’s easy to neglect the underlying forces that improve life in small, hard-to-observe ways, culminating in important changes.
In a given year, an extra percentage point of economic growth may not seem to matter much. But, over time, the difference between annual growth of 1 percent and 2 percent determines whether you can double your standard of living every 35 years or every 70 years. At 5 percent annual economic growth, living standards double about every 14 years.
Domestically, this is also why it matters if America lets itself get trapped in a Japan-like decade of unnecessarily slow growth. Incremental progress is better than misery, but we underestimate how much worse it is than faster progress.
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