The estimation of prewar gross national product: Methodology and new evidence

Nathan S. Balke, Robert J Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

203 Scopus citations


The paper develops new methodology for the estimation of prewar GNP, taps previously unused data sources, and develops new estimates for the periods 1869-1908 and 1869-1928. Primary among the new data sources are direct measures of output in the transportation, communications, and construction sectors and estimates of the consumer price index. New measures of real GNP, nominal GNP, and the GNP deflator are developed. The new estimates of real GNP are as volatile on average over the business cycle as the traditional Kuznets-Kendrick series but dampen the amplitude of some cycles while raising the amplitude of others. The new estimates of the GNP deflator are distinctly less volatile than the traditional series and in fact no more volatile than those in the postwar period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-92
Number of pages55
JournalJournal of Political Economy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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