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Putting the Australian Economy on the Scales

Andrew Leigh

Australian Economic Review, 2021, vol. 54, issue 1, 19-35

Abstract: Based on the increasing size of the service sector, some believe that growth in advanced countries has come without much change in the physical weight of output. To investigate the question, I generate rough estimates of the physical weight of Australian output from 1831 to 2018, using data on the weight of traded goods. These ballpark estimates imply that the weight of annual output increased from around 50,000 tonnes to around 800 million tonnes. Over the long term, a 10 per cent increase in real GDP was associated with a 12 per cent increase in the physical weight of output.

Date: 2021
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