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The Two Growth Rates of the Economy

Alexander Adamou, Yonatan Berman and Ole Peters

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Abstract: Economic growth is measured as the rate of relative change in gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. Yet, when incomes follow random multiplicative growth, the ensemble-average (GDP per capita) growth rate is higher than the time-average growth rate achieved by each individual in the long run. This mathematical fact is the starting point of ergodicity economics. Using the atypically high ensemble-average growth rate as the principal growth measure creates an incomplete picture. Policymaking would be better informed by reporting both ensemble-average and time-average growth rates. We analyse rigorously these growth rates and describe their evolution in the United States and France over the last fifty years. The difference between the two growth rates gives rise to a natural measure of income inequality, equal to the mean logarithmic deviation. Despite being estimated as the average of individual income growth rates, the time-average growth rate is independent of income mobility.

Date: 2020-09
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-gro and nep-his
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http://arxiv.org/pdf/2009.10451 Latest version (application/pdf)

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Working Paper: The Two Growth Rates of the Economy (2020) Downloads
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