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143 Monthly Lab. Rev. 1 (2020)

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     Labor                                                                    RBLS

   Review                                                                         January 2020

American identity through the lens of economic


Measuring America: How Economic Growth Came to
Define American Greatness in the Late Twentieth Century
By Andrew L. Yarrow. Amherst: University of
Massachusetts Press, 2010, 256 pp., $28.95 paperback.                         ;

In this book, Andrew L. Yarrow looks back on America of
the 20th century, creating a snapshot of how the U.S.
economy and economics in general evolved into what
they are today. In the author's words, this evolution was
uniquely marked by constant economic pulse-taking and
measurement mania. Yarrow discusses how America
came to define itself by the state of its economy and how
the demand for and supply of economists grew sharply
overtime. From 1947 to 1957, the number of Ph.D.
programs in economics offered by U.S. universities tripled,
and, in the second half of the century, about 60 percent of
all federal social science funding went to economists.
During the postwar economic boom, the subject of
economics enveloped the everyday life of Americans,
finding its way into political rhetoric, the public education
system, and even television sets (with educational series
produced by the Committee for Economic Development

Over the last century, America's economy has become the
country's most popular measure of success. In the mid-to-  Connor Borkowski
late 20th century, economic metrics such as gross borkowski.connorbIs.aov
domestic product (GDP), hours worked, and household    Connor Borkowski is an economist in the Office
income became the main barometer of national well-  of   Employment and Unemployment Statistics,
being. During the economic expansion of the 1950s, a   U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
decade that saw average annual GDP growth of 4
percent, the economy became an identity symbol that
Americans could proudly display to the world. To convey
the prevailing mood of the time, Yarrow quotes Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) chairman Arthur Burns,

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